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Museo della Civiltà Contadina - Istituzione Villa Smeraldi

Via Sammarina 35 - 40010 Bentivoglio (BO)

Phone +39 051 891050

Fax 39 051 6599233

Date of last update: 23/08/2016, 16:36

Since 1973, the Museo della Civiltà Contadina (Museum of peasant farming culture) has been housed in Villa Smeraldi. With over 2,000 square meters of exhibition space and a 4-hectare park, the Museum offers its visitors a unique opportunity to learn about work and life in the local countryside at the turn of the 20th century. The section dedicated to hemp production is the most important of its kind in Italy.
The 19th-century Villa, surrounded by an English-style park, was once an aristocratic country home. It is located in the hamlet of San Marino di Bentivoglio, 15 kilometres from Bologna.
The Museum, villa and park are managed by Istituzione Villa Smeraldi, established in 1999 by the Province of Bologna with support from the municipal administrations of Bologna, Bentivoglio and Castel Maggiore. In 2015 the Metropolitan City of Bologna took over management from the Province of Bologna.

The Museum’s collection includes over 10,000 everyday life objects used by farmers at work and in their homes between 1750 and 1950 in the local countryside and in the Emilia-Romagna region. These were donated, over time, by the farmers and ex-farmers of the La Stadura association, which helped establish the Museum.
The exhibition, arranged into sections on display inside the Villa, two pavilions and an adjacent building, focuses on a specific type of employment relationship that was particularly widespread in the province of Bologna: sharecropping. In the sharecropping system, the landowner (who used to spend the summer in the Villa) and the tenant farmers shared in equal parts the costs (including equipment and manpower) and the yield of the farm.
The Museum sections are: The plains of tenant farmers; The farm; Wheat and corn; Wood, leaves and wine; The farmyard and the family; Craftsmen of the countryside; Hemp: a versatile fiber; Honey and sugar: to make life less bitter; Fruit: taste one to know one; The peasant farmer's kitchen; Garden and orchard.
The Museum is surrounded by a large park with rare plants and an ornamental lake, and was recently expanded to include an orchard with 500 fruit trees of ancient and rare varieties. The orchard, together with the hemp field, could be described as an open-air museum.

Villa Smeraldi is located in San Marino, a hamlet near Bentivoglio. To get there from:

  • the "Interporto" exit on the A13 Bologna-Padova motorway
  • the SS64 Bologna-Ferrara road
  • the SP4 Bologna-San Giorgio di Piano-Galliera road

follow the signs for "Museo della Civiltà Contadina"

Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30-12:30
Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-12:30 and 14:30-17:30
Saturdays: groups with reservations
Sundays and holidays:
May through September: 16:00-20:00
March, April, October, November: 15:00-19:00
December, January and February: special visits may be arranged for groups.

Guided tours and educational activities upon reservation, bookshop, conference facilities, text panels in Italian throughout the exhibition

The Museum is fully accessible to people with disabilities: wheelchair ramps, lifts and platforms are available.

Museo della Civiltà Contadina - Istituzione Villa Smeraldi