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Montappone, Straw Hat Museum

“Once upon a time, it is told, in the countryside around Fermo, among the hills that lead from the azure of the mountains down to the sea, there lived in a beautiful palace, a very rich, powerful and wise king, who possessed the largest collection of royal crowns in the whole world…”. Thus begins a recent fable which seems to portray through fantasy the Castle of Montappone. On a hill covered in ancient trees, between the river Ete Morto and the rio Tarucchio, stands a small town which was rebuilt in 1371 after being razed to the ground by Gentile da Mogliano sixteen years before. The town is known for the long tradition which ties its people to the art of processing straw, for many years a fundamental sector of the economy of Montappone. To pay homage to what was not only a trade, but an ethno-anthropological heritage to be preserved for future generations, a Hat Museum was recently opened in Via XX Settembre. Along the exhibition route we can understand the profound value of straw processing in the history of Montappone through a series of photographs, projections and information panels showing also the different processing stages, which include the harvesting, selection, weaving and finally stitching of straws for the creation of unique hats. Besides the tools and machinery used in the past, we can admire various hats that attract our attention for their extravagant uniqueness, such as the well-known tiny doll's hat and the two-metre-wide parasol, or for their emotional value, an example of which is the last hat worn by Federico Fellini. However most are interesting because with their varied shapes we can read the history of fashion which changes from season to season and influences with rigid commands the taste of entire generations. So it is impossible not to admire boaters of the early years of the 20th century, elegant top hats, fezzes, bicornes, pamelas or kepis without perceiving links with the history of the social and economic customs of an entire town.