The Tuna Museum of Favignana – A Fishy Surprise

Favignana is a municipality in Southern Italy. It is one among the three Aegadian Islands located near Sicily. The coastal area around the vicinity of the city contains important landmarks such as the Trapani international airport and the Stagnone Lagoon. Favignana is a popular tourist destination for hydrofoils and its numerous tuna fisheries.

The Tuna Museum of Favignana
The Tuna Museum of Favignana

In fact, one of the most important tuna fishery and factory in Favignana as been turned into a museum – the former Florio plant. The former factory is a testament to the people of Favignana, specifically the Florio family who owns it, and their economic fervor and industry. The site includes the boats, anchors, and the slaughtering equipment. The Florio Plant Museum is truly rich in its narration of the Florio family’s history and its part in the flourishing industry of tuna on the island.

The Structure and Last Activity of the Florio Plant

The pure dedication and the solemnity of the work done by the workers in the factory can be said to be reflected by the structure of the Florio plant, which measures a total of 32 thousand square meters. The main structures of the plant are nothing short of majestic, even reminiscent of the great basilicas and cathedrals found in historic cities, with the plant’s high ceilings and towering arches.

The beginnings of the factory could be traced to Giulio Drago, a Genoese, who came to Favignana in 1859 to rent a tuna trap. However, the actual birth of the factory is recorded to be because of the efforts of Ignazio Florio who commissioned an architect named Damiani Almeyda to restructure the existing Tonnara buildings in 1878. The creation of the factory put Favignana on the face of the map for tuna production. Despite the flourishing of the island, the Florio family began to decline, but the factory was, fortunately, and the Parodos of Genoa saved the industry. Under their leadership, the factory continued to be productive and sustained the economy of the island. The 1970s marked the final decline of tuna production in the factory because of a change in market dynamics until it was in a state of disrepair in the 1990s.

How the Florio Plant became a Museum

Seeing the historical and economic significance of the Florio plant, reconstruction of its remains began in 2003 until it was finally inaugurated in 2009. The efforts to renew the Florio plant cost more than 14 million euros.

Florio Plant
Florio Plant

The reopened Florio plant contains an archaeological museum featuring significant finds retrieved from the Egadi Islands like a headless statue, prehistoric artifacts, jars and storage from various periods, and even Roman rostrums. A section of the newly opened museum is, of course, specially dedicated to the Florio along with a state-of-the-art holographic, lifelike display of the factory’s death chamber and a collection of meaningful testimonies from previous factory workers. One of the aims of the Florio Plant Museum is to educate visitors on the tuna industry. For this purpose, projection rooms for historical films and display panels on fishing, tuna processing, and other industrial activities relating to the Florio tuna factory are available for viewing.