The Museo storico e scientifico del tabacco, which opened in 2004, is set up inside the premises of the San Giustino ex-association of tobacco producers and was founded at the request and interest of the San Giustino municipality, and supported by institutions and organisations interested in the material. The warehouse, now the venue of the museum, was built at the end of the nineteenth century and, extended, remained in function until 1992, when the processing of the tobacco was moved to new warehouses on the industrial estate.
The itinerary of the museum, together with the structure itself that houses the museum, document the stages of the cultivation and processing of the tobacco, distinguishing between agriculture (the cultivation), pre-manufacturing (the selection and treatment of the leaves) and the manufacturing, and the importance that it has had on the economy and social development of the area. On the inside of this fascinating example of industrial archaeology you can visit the offices, the drying sheds and the sorting rooms in order to learn about a long story of fatigue and labour, but also one of wellbeing, economic development and social emancipation, one in which women have played the main role, the “tabacchine” that, together with the textile workers, were amongst the first to give up the traditional housewife role, to become part of the big industries.
The seeds of the tobacco, imported to Europe from the Americas, were introduced in Tuscany at the end of the sixteenth century by the bishop Tornabuoni of Sansepolcro, that gave them as a gift to Cosimo de’ Medici.
The interest for what was by now known as “erba tornabuona” quickly spread in the Alta Valle del Tevere, so much so that the first cultivation, of somewhat importance for commercial reasons, in the Italian peninsular date back to the beginning of the seventeenth century and actually took place in the Republic of Cospaia (1441-1826), a little territory then at the border of Tuscany and Umbria and today part of the borough of San Giustino.
A. Ascani, Cospaia: storia inedita della singolare Repubblica, Città di Castello, 1963;
E. Fuselli, Cospaia tra tabacco contrabbando e dogane. Dieci anni del Museo Storico Scientifico del Tabacco di San Giustino, San Giustino 2014;
C. Saccia, L’oro verde: tabacco e tabacchine alla Fattoria autonoma tabacchi di Città di Castello, Perugia 1999;