Excavation and discoveries


At the time of its acquisition by the Montemurro family in 2003, today’s museum was used as a wine cellar. An iron press, concrete tanks used for the fermentation and various wine barrels could in fact be found.  The wheels of the mill were resting on resting on a circular base, elevated above the ground.  The bond beams of what once was the millstone were set on the ground.

Small details were pointing to the use of the space as an olive press in the past: the presence of the base of a Genovese press, the hole left by a screw in the vault and the empty space once most likely holding the main press.

Several small probing excavations were made, out of curiosity to verify the original flooring. Once removed the material found under the floor, a circular artifact with the bottom covered with clay bricks was found. After this first discovery, it was decided to continue with a few further probing excavations. These eventually led to uncover the largest tank of the site.

The tank was covered with a layer of earthenware (a building material used as a waterproof coating, composed of fragments of bricks or roof tile, minutely crushed). Upon discovering other wells and stones previously used as the bases for the presses, it was decided to remove all material under the floor. Other wells coated in earthenware with the bottom covered in clay bricks were eventually uncovered.

After removing a few remains from the site’s time as a cellar, nine additional tanks were uncovered.  As the tanks were being restored, it was further discovered that something else was still lying under the ground. Thanks to further excavations, the nine tanks were found to be interconnected. Finally, after removing the three steps leading to the grotto, a small bridge was found, notably the only access point to the site at the time of the olive press.