The Past and Present of the Olive Oil Museum

Established as a companion to the Wine Museum, the Olive Oil Museum is situated in Bardolino and housed in medieval houses within the town walls. Featured by the museum are exhibits that display different methods used to extract olive oil, with the displays ranging from the simplest techniques to current oil production technology. Also on display are stone wheels, ancient lever press, screw presses, furnishings and utensils.

Nestled in one of the most significant olive oil producing areas in the Mediterranean, the Olive Oil Museum is housed in the Art Nouveau building constructed during the 1920s to house headquarters of the Fratelli Carli Corporation. A few years later it was converted to the Museum to display the collection of items presented by the Carli family and illustrating period from the evolution of the olive trees till present.

The Olive Oil Museum covers 10 rooms and opens with the information provided by the National Research Council on the general characteristics of olive trees and traditional techniques for extracting the oil. Housed by the subsequent rooms is a rich documentation related to the history of olive oil equipment, including the first stone mortars of the fifth century BC, the trapetum and the new olive oil technology. The museum expands to the two upper floors featuring olive tree and oil in daily life, in addition to the value and use attributed to them over the years.

The specialized library and the storage areas are also located in the museum, as are of course a gift ship and a cafeteria. Above them is the auditorium equipped with video and sound installations for different types of gatherings. The Museum itself consists of an exhibition area and the following data files that can be accessed by visitors: The Olive Tree over 6,000 Years of History, Oil Production and Olive Oil Cultivation.

There is a wide range of exhibits on display featuring objects related to olive oil cultivation and extraction. Thus, visitors can enjoy inscribed cuneiform wooden tables regarded as the registered accounts of selling and buying of oil which are responsible for documenting the consumption and diffusion of olive oil and the commercial transactions. Among other exhibits is quarta, used during the harvest for measuring olives before the actual pressing and during sales negotiations. The process was controlled with great care to make sure that no eventual defects can alter its precision. Visitors to the Olive Oil Museum can also enjoy Lekythos representing a male running figure, as well as other male figures helping in the exercise. Lekythos was first mentioned by Odyssey, when Nausica received from her mother a gold Lekythos filled with olive oil necessary for restoration of Ulisse. Among other exhibits on display is a mosaic depicting a scene of navigation, Amphora Micenese in the form of a stirrup, a cup representing the mouth of a lion, a plate for serving fish and Alabaster recuperated from underwater expeditions just to name a few.

The Olive Oil Museum is open every day except for Sunday. Admission is free. Guided excursions and tours for groups must be arranged with the office of the museum at least a month in advance. You can also visit the modern Carli Olive Mill adjacent to the Museum and available during the Olive Harvest season. Wine lovers should by all means pay a visit to the Wine Museum tracing the history of wine making in Bardolino and beyond. In addition there is a working winery that dates back to the mid nineteenth century.

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