Museo del Tortura. Museum of Torture Montepulciano. We chanced upon a sign in a little street just off the main Piazza while walking through the tiny little Tuscan town of Montepulciano. It started pouring, and we popped in for shelter, but to be honest, we were also a little intrigued.
If you’re easily disturbed, I would strongly suggest you DON’T read further. (I can’t believe we’re literally telling our readers not to read, but this museum visit left us feeling very unsettled.)
I’m not naïve. I do have a basic understanding of what heretics, criminals and other prisoners were probably put through in the dark and middle ages. I’m sure weapons were crude, times were tough and torture prevalent. But the objects on display (and the stories behind them) in this museum were beyond all imagination.
From simple one-size-fits all questioning and punishment techniques to contraptions that only the darkest minds could have conjured up. Chastity belts took on a whole new meaning, coffins with spikes, guillotines, and silly little necklaces. We saw a chair into which people were strapped while their feet soaked in salt water were nibbled of by goats that had been denied water. Instruments to hammer skulls, chop off limbs, and other body parts were numerous. But justice took on a whole different meaning when punishments for gossiping wives involved cutting off tongues. Other punishments for cheats and thieves involved walking around with a ball and chain, in heavy iron masks, metal brushes to scrape off the skin, chairs to dunk people in rivers, strange stepladders and suspension systems to disfigure skeletons, it was just fascinating in a most morbid way. You wouldn’t even want to know what adulterers were put through.
We enjoyed walking around Montepulciano and picturing its Medieval manners, but the Museum of Torture Montepulciano was a shocking revelation, and put so many things into a different perspective. It was an eye opener, nonetheless, and just like we were interested in the beauty of the Renaissance, we felt it equally important to learn of the darker side of Medievalism.