Sant’Anatolia’s new museum

May 30, 2013 / Local Interest
Sant'Anatolia di Narco, Umbria
S. Anatolia di Narco, pop approximately 350As you come out of the 5-kilometer tunnel linking the Umbrian Valley to the Valnernina, you enter another world: poppies splash color in the wheat fields, sun-yellow rapeseed blanket other fields and the vivid fuchsia of the wild plum trees blossoms paint swatches of color on the deep green wooded mountainsides. The Nera River flows through narrow mountain gorges, medieval hill towns hang precariously off rocky cliffs, nearly all of them once feudal castle-villages standing sentinel over the valley below.

Museo della Canapa, S.Anatolia di NarcoOne of them is Sant’Anatolia di Narco (pop. 350). They have a new Museo della Canapa (Museum of Hemp), tucked away in the labyrinthine medieval backstreets (designed for defensive reasons: you can’t shoot a crossbow around a corner!).

Young Eva walked us through the fascinating history of hemp cultivation in the Valnerina  – and with passione.  We learned about its cultivation, harvest (after soaking the stalks in the Nera River) and its use… not just for ropes and feed sacks but for bed linens, clothing and even the fasce (bands of cloth) used to wrap infants. The seeds were used to season salads or pressed into oil for lamps. Nearly every farm family reserved a plot of land for the cultivation of hemp, so essential was the plant.

On a walk through a Valnerina hill town, you might see perforated corbels jutting out over doors:  once holding the poles where hemp was stretched out to dry. However, the cultivation of hemp was outlawed in 1970. Why? The European canapa is very similar to that of the Orient’s, cannabis indica. But thanks to this museum – and Eva’s passione – canapa’s place in Italy’s rural history lives on in this tiny mountain village.

Eva explains the use of the hemp loom to visitors

A colorful welcome to the hemp museum
Eva shows visitors how the hemp loom was used
Eva shows us an aged hemp coverlet
The exhausting work of hemp cultivation, early 20th c.

Splendid vista from S. Anatolia

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See for more on her Umbria tours. Do see for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

8 Responses to “Sant’Anatolia’s new museum”

  1. John Dalena

    We were recently in the “old City” in Putignano (Puglia)
    fascinating city
    would suggest you cover this city

  2. J. Kevin Crocker

    Great article Anne. This is a terrific example of the unusual insight Anne gives. I am in Assisi now, had dinner with Anne and a farm family last evening and went on a Perugia tour with her today. Bellissimo! Take advantage of Anne when you are in Umbria. Grazie.


  3. Gull-britt Lundstrom

    I understand that there is still alot of umbrien places I have to see! You do make me curious Anne! see you soon!


  4. Karen Kotoske

    Thanks, Anne, for this virtual trip to the Valnernina. It is clear this is another fascinating small museo Museo della Canapa that must be visited. I’d not pondered until your story about how a non-edible plant (supposedly anyway) woven and sewn for multiple practical purposes for farm and home use might have deeply helped the economic status of the area where hemp was able to thrive. Our Indiana family tells me that all throughout the early 20th century, hemp was grown around Indiana by the farmers also for practical purpose such as you described. Of course if a little happened, by accident, to somehow fall into Farmer Brown’s pipe upon a summer evening, it must have been nature’s way of saying ‘have a good evening, farmer Brown.”

  5. Marget Wallace

    As always you capture a slice of Umbria that is new and nostalgic for me at the same time.

  6. terry grant

    anne, joanie, sandy and I went to sant’anatolia di narco after seeing you in spoleto. we loved it! we went to the town hall and found a lovely woman who showed us around the terrific little museo della canapa, then we sat outside at the trattoria around the corner and enjoyed a meal of whole trout in green sauce. a great afternoon! thank you for recommending it.


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