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Museo Civico Etnografico Giovanni Podenzana

Gain insight into the culture and traditions of the rural communities of the historic Lunigiana territory at this fascinating museum.

Delve into local history and culture at Museo Civico Etnografico Giovanni Podenzana, La Spezia’s ethnographic museum. This collection of traditional objects focuses on the customs and lifestyles of rural families and communities in the historic Lunigiana area. Discover what life was like here before industrialization transformed society.  

The museum is named after the naturalist, Giovanni Podenzana, who founded the museum in 1906 with his own collection of artifacts. Objects held in the collection range in age from the 18th century through to the first half of the 20th century. Wander through the exhibits and learn more about the rituals, customs and culture of the people of Lunigiana. Many of these communities lived in the Val di Vara and Val di Magra valleys. The relics on display here reflect their work habits and rural lifestyles.  

The materials are divided into several themes. Explore the various types of worship and practices of faith of local people in the section dedicated to devotion and popular cults. Then move on to the area devoted to superstition and therapeutic practices. Here you can learn about the common spiritual beliefs and customs of the people of Lunigiana.  

Other parts of the museum focus on everyday objects. See how farms and households were run in older days using a variety of basic tools and utensils. View examples of furniture and furnishings that were commonly found in country homes. Then spend some time admiring the craftsmanship evident in the ornamental jewelry and costumes on display. Highlights include the finely wrought filigree gold jewelry. These beautiful and intricately designed pieces were worn on feast days.  

A visit to the ethnographic museum can easily be paired with a trip to the Diocesan Museum, which is located in the same building.  

Museo Civico Etnografico Giovanni Podenzana charges a small entrance fee and is open mornings Monday through Friday and early evenings Thursday through Sunday. The museum is located in the former oratory of San Bernardino in the historic center of the city and is easily accessible on foot from La Spezia Centrale train station.


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