Matera Olive Oil Museum


Useful Information

Location: Vico I Casalnuovo, 3, 75100 Matera MT.
(40.661754445747206, 16.611734507034726)
Open: All year daily.
Booking at least 3 days in advance required.
[2021]
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (6-16) EUR 4, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 4, School Pupil EUR 2.
Classification: SubterraneaFactory
Light: electric
Dimension:
Guided tours: D=30min.
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Matera Olive Oil Museum, Vico I Casalnuovo, 3, 75100 Matera MT, Tel: +39-380-701-5042. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

15th cty underground mill built.
1993 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

The Matera Olive Oil Museum (MOOM) is not only dedicated to olive oil, it is actually located inside an underground historic olive oil mill. The oil mill is a group of different rooms, each one dedicated to a particular phase of the oil processing. From the courtyard the visitor enters the stable, where the donkeys were resting. Adjacent is the place where the donkeys were walking in circles for hours, driving a huge wooden beam. The beam goes through a hole in the ground into the room below, where it drives the millstones. Three large stone wheels were going around breaking the olives, the first step to produce olive oil. Unlike grain mills where the millstone lies horizontally, in olive mills typically two or three millstone are mounted vertically rolling around. Olives thrown into the way are pressed by the weight of the stones to olive paste. The paste was then collected and pressed in wooden presses. It was placed between pads made of plant fibre called fiscoli and then pressed between two wooden planks. The liquid which was pressed out contains oil and water, and was separated in basins. Oil is lighter than water and after some time the water is at the bottom and the oil at the top.

The oil mill also has additional rooms. For example there were cisterns to provide drinking water and water to wash the olives. There are olivai, chambers used to store the olives for some time. And there was a small room for the miller with a bed, where he could rest for a few hours and take a meal, before the production started all over. It seems he was quite busy when the olives were harvested.

The mill was started in the 15th century, but during the centuries it was enlarged multiple times. The rock allowed to construct extensions, just by digging a new cavern. The material from an excavation was reused within the same structure. The upper part of the Casalnuovo press was built in the late 19th century. The modern shape of windows and doors, and the modern excavation techniques are quite obvious. The location at Via Casalnuovo was important, as this is one of the few drivable roads in the Sassi which allowed the transport of olives and oil.

The mill is a sort of museum, but every visit starts with a 30 minutes guided tour. Afterwards the visitors have some time to visit the olive oil exhibition which explains the history of oil production in Italy, the ancient and modern way, different qulities of oil and much more.