Bologna's canal network converged at the Sostengo di Battiferro, a hydraulic lock that lowered the barges coming from Ferrara and points north along the Navile Canal to the level of Bologna's own canals. The original Sostengo was designed by Vignola in 1548, but was much rebuilt afterwards.
The easy access to water power attracted numerous industries, including Bologna's first hydroelectric plant in 1901, and the Fornace Galotti, next to the Sostengo. Its massive Hoffmann Furnace supplied Bologna with bricks from 1887 until it closed in 1966; in the 1990s it was restored and reopened as a museum.
Exhibits showcase Bologna's industrial and scientific prowess through the ages: its skills in bricks and terracotta, its canals and mills. The star attraction here is a half scale working model of one of the 100 silk mills that helped to make Bologna one of Europe's top silk cities between the 15th and 18th centuries, thanks to technological innovations (the silk mills famously had no windows, to prevent any industrial espionage).
There's a handsome display of the machines that made Bologna 'the Capital of Packaging' after the Second World War, as well as a Zamboni tortellini-making machine, a Maserati, models, historic machines, tools and a large display of motorcycles from the 1920s to 40s made in Bologna, although of the manufacturers only Ducati survives.
Via della Beverara 123 (take bus No. 30 from the centre or the station towards Sostengo; stop Beverara).
Hours Mid Sept-mid June: Tues-Fri 9am-1pm, Sat 9am-1pm and 3-6pm; Sun 3-6pm. Mid June-mid Sept: Mon-Fri 9am-1am.
Adm €5; €3 ages 18-24 and over 65; under 18 free
+39 051 6356611
Images by: Museopatalessio, Creative Commons Licence