Passions & Places


The hats of Montappone

Once upon a time there was a wise king, and one day a young farmer asked him to marry his daughter. This farmer only owned the corn he seeded and harvested.

The king asked the suitor to give him a crown in exchange for his daughter. “Your Majesty” - said the boy - “I want to marry your daughter, but I have neither gold, nor precious stones for the crown you want. I am a farmer, if I leave my fields unattended to go and look for gold and precious stones, what will I find once I come back, but ears of corn pecked by birds?”

“That’s your business”, answered the king. “This is what I asked for, and this is what I want. Remember, one is rich because of what one has, not because of what one needs”.

The boy went home, desperate. He picked three ears of corn from a field and rubbed them with the hand to assess whether they were ready to be turned into bread. Husks flew away in the evening breeze. Three woodpeckers approached him, and after pecking the seeds they flew away towards the sunset, flying one below the other, from the left to the right and from up to down.

The boy looked at them, and only then did he understand the king’s words; with the three stems he made a braid. He made more braids during the night, then he sewed them together and folded them.

The following morning the boy went back to the king, bringing him the beautiful crown he had made interlacing the straw braids together. The crown was embellished by a flat and projecting edge, which protected from the sunrays and the rain.

When he saw it, the king was satisfied and after a while, when the boy married his daughter, he wore that crown and gave the clever farmer all his kingdom as a wedding present.

People say that since that day all the citizens of Montappone began to interlace straw, wishing they too would have the same fortune than their fellow villager.

  You have just read a fairy tale, yet Montappone has always been a point of reference in the manufacturing of hats. The inhabitants of this hamlet located in the Fermo hills used to work as farmers, and in the 18th century they started to recover discards of harvested corn, to make creative hats.

It is thanks to the ancient wisdom of farmers that Montappone has become one of the main artisan and industrial centres for hat manufacturing, which are sold all over the world.

It is not by chance that the Hat Museum is located in Montappone, a clear example of the harmonic combination between rural and artisan cultures. 

The museum contains a large collection of vintage tools and pictures, and promotes the knowledge of an ancient and valuable art. 

Other materials have also been used in addition to straw (such as shaving and willow since 1870, and, more recently, meshes) to obtain a diversified production of hats for all seasons and styles.  

Alongside the growth of industries exporting all over the world, Montappone has always managed to preserve the artisan dimension in its production of straw hats, renewing at the same time the traditional and cultural nature of these lands.

2001 Liberation Ventures Ltd.

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