The old town of Isernia.

The Costumes Museum.

Isernia is a town with roots stretching back to the time of the pre-Roman Samnites. Earthquakes and a massive WWII bombing raid have spared little of its original historic center. In spite of these unfortunate events, the lower city has kept its original appearance with its quaint lanes and narrow alleyways.
One of the city’s highlights is the Fontana Fraterna, built between the 13th and 14th Centuries and dedicated to Pope Celestine V, a distinctive native son of Isernia. The town’s fame is owed to a traditional textile art, whose origins go back to the1300’s: The embroidery with bobbin lace, made with a roller-shaped cushion called the ‘balloon’.
By weaving the threads with skillful gestures magnificent designs are created that will enrich all kinds of fabrics. This activity has been handed down over the centuries from mother to daughter and, although few craftsmen remain today the technique has remained almost unchanged. Visiting the Muse C, the Costumes Museum, is a trip down memory lane, a journey into the soul and origin of the Molisan people who, in their simplicity were rich in creativity, as expressed in their traditional dress. The collection with its 35 costumes, coming from different villages of Molise was collected by Antonio Scasserra, who dedicated his life to the meticulous research of these traditional outfits. These are women’s costumes because in a society that used to practice transhumance, women had a central role in every sphere of life. From the second World War on, the traditional dress was progressively abandoned because of the emancipation of women in this agricultural society.Beside the stunning beauty and diversity of these costumes what really captured me is the universe of complex symbols that was in every element of their dress. Only by looking at one detail, such as the hairpin, you could know if the woman was ready to get married or if she already was. With over 1000 elements the popular jewellery exhibition is also spectacular. Most of the objects displayed come from Agnone which was renowned for its refined craftsmanship.

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