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Museum of Firefighters and the Italian Red Cross
Photo: Automotoclub Storico Italiano

Museum of Firefighters and the Italian Red Cross

The Museo Storico dei Pompieri or ‘Museum of Firefighters and the Italian Red Cross’ is a museum in Manfredonia, Puglia. It is the largest and most fascinating fire museum in the world, exhibiting over 2,500 square metres of floor space.

The museum is a comprehensive history of the firefighting section of the emergency services. It covers the periods from the 1700s to 1900s, as well as The Italian Red Cross, which was founded in 1864.

A ticket buys you a guided tour of the museum and virtual reality environments. Plenty of extras are included in the ticket cost. Children are given a Little Firefighter certificate and there’s a play area for them to let off steam. The play area is packed with themed games video games and an inflatable play area, where they can pretend to be firefighters! Both children and adults can also enjoy fire extinguishing tests.

At the end of the tour, children receive a cardboard model of a fireman's ladder to be assembled at home.

The museum consists of four different pavilions. Each one of these is dedicated to a certain part of the history of both firefighting and the Italian Red Cross.

The museum opens with a large display of 80 uniforms belonging to the firefighters and the Italian Red Cross.

The first pavilion is dedicated to St. Lorenzo, the Patron Saint of cooks, firefighters and bakers. This first part of the museum is an immersive history of firefighting. This section contains the broadest and most extraordinary collection of photos, books, prints, catalogues, engravings, postcards, illustrations and certificates. Every success the Fire Brigade has achieved is represented here.

The second pavilion is dedicated to St. Anthony the Abbot, protector of firefighters and those who work with fire. Here you can find vehicles from over the years, such as litter wagons, the horse-drawn ambulance, the rescue bicycle, as well as many uniforms. This part of the museum mainly centres on the history of the Italian Red Cross.

The third pavilion is centred around St. Barbara. Also known as ‘The Saint of Fire’, she is the current Patron Saint of firefighters. Here is home to a lot of the equipment, vehicles and uniforms representing the Fire Brigade over the years. This is one of the most inspiring sections of the museum.

The fourth and last pavilion is dedicated to St. Florian. The Patron Saint of Austria and Poland; also firefighters, chimney sweeps, and brewers. In this section, the focus is on rescue and recovery. You will see here aerial rescue systems used over the centuries, rescue nets, the circular jump sheets, rescue and tubular sheets, the firefighters' descent ramp, as well rope and rung ladders,

Lunch is not included, although there is a cafeteria where you can enjoy tea and coffee courtesy of the museum.

On the route, you will also see a variety of exhibits including uniforms, vehicles, medals equipment, prints, engravings, books and vintage photographs. The tour typically takes 2-3 hours, although there’s enough to fill a whole day!