Paper Museum in Mele
via Acquasanta, 251 - 16010 Mele (GE)
Telefono: 010 63 81 09 - 010 63 19 042
Fax: 010 63 19 202
L'essiccatoio per la carta L'essiccatoio per la carta

A paper Museum not to forget the past and keep living among the new generations the memory of the hard work that occurred inside the “edifizi per lo papero”: this is the goal with which it was born, in 1997, the Centre of gathering, proof and exhibition of the Paper art at Mele, near Genoa Voltri wanted by the Municipality of Mele and the Province of Genoa, and it is housed in the ex-paper factory Sbaraggia of the 18th century at Acquasanta.

The Centre, besides testifying the paper production is a privileged place of study about history, marketing and the paper development and is a tool to know a bit the history of the community and the territory of Mele that founded its growth on the paper.

The gathering, made up by objects that date back from the 18th century till the end of the 20th century, is extended: tools, instruments, machinery for the paper production and other finds left in the factory when, in 1985, the activity of the paper factory stopped.

The particular interest that has got the Museum, restored in 1992, is its position: a collection situated inside a factory “do papé” with some machinery and tools used until the end of the life of the paper factory. A museum that houses in an only place materials typical of the production, products, samples of produced paper, coming from different paper factories by now junked.

In 2009 the gathering has enriched itself with some very interesting samples of produced paper that date back to the end of the 19th century, about which the scholars have analyzed the paper art. 

An activity of scientific-educational popularization that involves constantly also all schools, too, with workshops for the production of hand-made paper and guided tours.

A little bit of history

The production of paper has been supported in the Val Leira since 1424 but it reachs a remarkable intensity between the 17th and the 18th century; about 1720, in fact, the protectors of the shrine at Acquasanta, in a moment of great economical wealth, decided to invest in a paper factory building and renting at first two buildings for white paper and in 1756 one for scrap paper.
This one, situated on the left bank of the stream, has got a dry kiln on the roof, with shutter windows, where the swatch books of paper are hung to dry; this is a technique that the paper factory would have kept extraordinarily unchanged until 1985, when the activity stopped, although it was by now stabilized the use of machinery provided with drying groups.

The intervention

As a result of existing teaching and cultural interest and the current number of schools and accesses, the project aims at reinforcing and preserving the paper making business, allowing a higher number of visitors and a greater band of users to utilise the museum spaces.
The idea is to make available and exhibit historical and archive records on paper making, both in the area of Mele and the fraction of Acquasanta, in addition to other working activities and demonstrations.

The structure will be completed with monitors and panels that illustrate the various activities carried out inside the paper factory, with visual and sound support in each exhibition room. Other separate panels will show the tools used for manufacturing and the working phases themselves, up to the final product.
The common rooms will be complete with fittings which appraise the end paper products and with consultable documents that tell of the working methods, the composition of the papers that were produced, and the use of historical paper factory products.

Some multimedia structures will be installed to support the activities, for example explanatory and graphic panels, and analysis supports in the different production rooms. Optimum accessibility will be guaranteed, removing the architectural barriers from the parking areas in the square of Acquasanta, in the municipality of Mele, and upgrading the paths and signals.


In near Acquasanta you can admire the Shrine of Our Lady of Acquasanta, whose first written news dates back to 1465, in a document where it is named the presence of a little temple devoted to the Virgin.
The present Shrine, built between 1683 and 1718 on a design attributed to Carlo Muttone from Lombardy, housed also the royal wedding celebrated on November 21st 1832, between the king of Naples, Ferdinando II di Borbone and the princess Maria Cristina di Savoia, Vittorio Emanuele I and Maria Teresa d’Asburgo’s daughter.


At the beginning of the paper production in the area had got a very remarkable role the presence of the three streams Gorsexio, Acquasanta and Ceresolo, ad first exploited for the mills.
With Damiano Grazioso da Fabriano’s arrival, transferred to Mele in the 15th century, they were substituted by silk industry.

Pursuant to historical sources in 1400 there were several paper factories in the area, and the so-called “paperai” were so overcharged by work that the Senate was compelled to issue a measure according to which paper makers, machinery and even the rags could not emigrate out of the borders of the Republic of Genoa.
For those who did not respect this rule there was the risk of a fine and, in the most serious cases, even the boarding on a galley as oarsman, what at that time was a real torture.

The activity of paper production, in spite of the emigrations of several paper makers to near lands, continued to be prosperous till the remarkable number of one hundred plants between 1675 and 1800 in the area included between Pegli and Voltri.

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