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At Italy's Barolo Wine Museum, Visitors are Encouraged to Play with Many of the Exhibits
A visitor looks at an interactive screen at the Barolo wine museum in Barolo, about 70km (43 miles) south of Turin, September 12, 2010. When you walk up the stairs of the imposing medieval castle which now houses the new wine museum in the picturesque Italian town of Barolo, you don't need to worry about the prospect of monotonous lectures on the history of winemaking. You are going to have fun, its creator says. REUTERS/Paolo Bona.

By: Svetlana Kovalyova

BAROLO, ITALY (REUTERS.- When you walk up the stairs of the imposing medieval castle which now houses a new wine museum in the picturesque Italian town of Barolo, you don't need to worry about the prospect of monotonous lectures on the history of winemaking.

You are going to have fun, its creator says.

"Wine has a quality to bring people together, it has a convivial dimension," said Francois Confino, the Swiss-born museum and exhibition designer.

"The fact of getting a little tipsy provokes something in the mind that makes people feel well together and I hope this is translated here somehow," he told Reuters at the museum opening.

Visitors are encouraged to play with many of the exhibits: peddle a merry-go-round which represents changing seasons or set in motion old-style "teatrini" -- mobile doll theatres where scenes related to wine are enacted.

Music accompanies visitors as they walk through 25 rooms of the museum -- from Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons to modern songs celebrating wine to which a special room is dedicated.

In another room, with leather club chairs, velvet curtains and movie posters on the walls, clips are running of films inspired by wine, such as "Sideways" and "A Good Year."

The full-body barolo red wine has been praised as "the wine of kings and the king of wines" since the mid 19th century when production techniques were improved to create the modern wine, which has an intense complex bouquet with clear notes of violet and vanilla.

But the museum in the northern region of Piedmont is not focused on the history and details of making barolo. There is little factual information here and visitors looking to get an in-depth knowledge of winemaking are likely to be disappointed.

"Here the idea is to get visitors involved, not to inform them," said Federico Scarzello who oversees the museum at Barolo's town hall.

"Maybe it is not even a museum. It is rather an emotional journey to convey a different attitude to wine ... It is the first step in getting to know wine which then needs to be taken forward," he told Reuters.

Visitors still can learn at the museum if they squeeze behind small century-old wooden desks in a classroom and listen to their virtual classmates tell how their parents and grandparents make barolo.

A proper lecture room is due to open soon, organizers said.

Down in the basement there is a wine shop which displays rows of old dusty bottles and where visitors can finally taste barolo's warm and caressing flavor and buy some of the garnet red wine.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

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