The 'Museo Nazionale Degli Strumenti Musicali' or National Museum of Musical Instruments' is hidden away in a quiet, forgotten corner of San Giovanni in Rome. To be precise, in the old barracks of the Princes of Piemonte from the time of the Risorgimento.
Quite ironic as it was the arrival of the intruders from Piemonte who caused much of the vast collection to be dispersed and lost.
What we see today is just a small part of the original collection of Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit who lived from 1602-1680, and that of Evangelista Gorga (1865-1957) who 'donated' his 150,000 items to the State after the second World War to cover his debts.
The museum is strictly old style. By this we mean old things in glass cases.
This didn't stop us ringing the ancient bronze gong which used to announce the opening and closure of the Roman baths 2000 years ago.
In fact, a tour takes the visitor from ancient Roman and Etruscan whistles, horns and 'crotals', through popular musical instruments of European itinerant tradition, to the invention of the piano, church music and baroque house entertainment. There are plenty of mandolins, not just from Naples but Mantova, Brescia, Milan and elsewhere.
Not only mandolins, but tiny 'mandolini', large 'mandolas' and larger still 'mandolone' pictured here and derived from the lute.
One of only three of the world's first pianos is on display. It dates from 1722 and was made by B. Cristofori.
All totally fascinating and just €4 to get in.
Museo Nazionale Degli Strumenti Musicali
Piazza S.Croce in Gerusalemme, 9a