A museum tested by the rain
LAKE MAGGIORE – I like it every time it rains, even if nine out of ten times I don’t have an umbrella with me, so I have to walk against the walls trying not to get wet, bumping into people that are doing the same thing as me.
Umbrella vendors instead are always there, they appear instantly from nowhere and setup quickly, at the train station, outside the underground and at very corner of the streets, all with the same umbrellas with the same prices. You only need to get a strong downpour or a heavy gust of wind and the umbrella flips inside out before it breaks. Not worth repairing them considering how much they cost!
Once the umbrella was considered an elegant, artistic object, and it had a great importance in the antiquity. It’s not clear who inented this sacred object, but China, Egypt, India and Japan all claimed responsibility for its origin. Then it started to become an elegant accessory used exclusively by the upper class families. The extreme paucity of allusions to umbrellas throughout the middle Ages shows that they were not in common use, besides for the liturgical usage it had for popes. And in the renaissance, knights’ servers used to use umbrellas to shelter their masters on their way to the battle.
Whoever is fascinated like me by daily objects can visit The umbrella and parasol Museum, situated at Gignese, near Verbania. If you plan a day out at Lake Maggiore, this museum is really worth a visit, although unfortunately it is only open from 1st April to 30th September.
The museum tells the story of the lives and activity of umbrella-makers and traces the history of the fashions that influenced the style of this accessory.
You can follow the progress of the fashion of parasols, umbrellas, walking sticks and handles from the beginning of the 19th century up to today. You can also learn about lives and activity of the many umbrella-makers and umbrella-sellers. There is also a board written in the language, once used among the craftsmen.