Museums of Valsesia
ALAGNA VALSESIA - WALSER MUSEUM
Hamlet of Pedemonte
tel. 0039 347 1377404
Fascinating and adventurous, the history of the Walsers, the population of Germanic origin which, between the 13 th and 16 th centuries colonised the Alps . Strong, determined people who succeeded in challenging the severe conditions of mountain life and invented ingenious solutions for improving high-altitude living conditions, exploiting the resources of sheep farming and agriculture. Their settlements in Valsesia, arranged into scattered hamlets, can be found in the municipalities of Rima, Rimella, Riva Valdobbia and Alagna.
It is here that the museum that bears witness to the originality of the culture of an ancient population, proud of its language, a high German dialect, and traditions is based; situated in the hamlet of Pedemonte, it has been set up in a house dating back to 1682, altered over the centuries but restored to its original form by the people of Alagna for this purpose.
Built on three levels (animal shed level, room level and barn level), the construction is made of tree trunks, stacked on top of one another and interlocked at the corners, and is surrounded by the wide porches characteristic of Walser architecture.
The Walser Museum houses furniture, objects, furnishings and products from the period, forming an authentic historical memory and an instrument for reconstructing the sociological and anthropological aspects of the Walser culture.
ALBANO – MUSEUM OF THE BALDES OF SESIA
Via XX Settembre, 12
Tel. 0039 0161.73112
This is a naturalistic museum which documents the research work carried out by the Parks Department. Its different sectors analyse the characteristic aspects of the reserve area. Ornithology is of great importance: 468 perfectly constructed and preserved examples represent species of European and a few international birds, 140 of which can be observed in the Park during the year, being permanent or migratory.
Other sectors are dedicated to characteristic forestry botanies, the morphology of the land and entomology.
RIVA VALDOBBIA - ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM
Hamlet of Rabernardo
tel. 0039 015 761116
Made charming by the natural environment in which it is set, Valle Vogna, and rich in the objects, history and traditions of the Walsers, this museum was opened at the beginning of the 1990's in the hamlet of Rabernardo.
A 17 th century chalet, which houses work tools, household furnishings and traditional men's and women's costumes. There is also an interesting and precious collection of parchments from the 15 th and 16 th centuries, regarding the local families.
The Sacred Mount of Varallo
The monumental complex of the Sacred Mount rises at an altitude of 608 metres above sea level, on a rocky peak which dominates Varallo and offers very atmospheric glimpses of the town below and of the entire Valsesia district and Monte Rosa. It is an integrated part of the Special Natural Reserve, set up in 1980 by Piedmont Region.
The Sacred Mount can be reached on foot, climbing for twenty minutes along a path which starts in the centre of Varallo and ideally represents Jesus' climb to Calvary ; travelling by car, the road leaves Crosa di Varallo and there is also a cable car, which was reopened in 2003, after renovation work.
This is the oldest of the Italian Sacred Mounts, having been conceived by the Franciscan monk Bernardino Caimi and built in 1491, and was the model for the other complexes built later along the Alpine arc. The monk, upon returning from a journey to Palestine , wanted to reproduce the places he had seen and revoke the Life and Passion of Christ in Varallo. A “New Jerusalem” was built in the heart of the Valsesia district, for the benefit of worshippers unable to visit the Holy Land , which was under Turkish rule at that time. This offered pilgrims the opportunity to relive the stories told in the New Testament in the “great mountain theatre”, experiencing amazement and emotional involvement. Since 2003 the Sacred Mount of Varallo has been part of the international heritage protected by UNESCO.
Info: Special Natural Reserve of the Sacred Mount of Varallo Tel. 0039 0163.53938
CARCOFORO – NATURALISTIC MUSEUM OF THE NATURE PARK OF UPPER VALSESIA
Località Tetto Minocco
Tel. 0163 54680
In order to gain a deeper knowledge of the natural environments which characterise the region of the Nature Park of Upper Valsesia and make it so fascinating, visit the Naturalistic Museum at Carcoforo. Inaugurated in September 2003, it is located in a historic Walser house expressly restructured to house the museum, thus skilfully combining nature and tradition. This museum, which has also become an important centre for cultural, educational and scientific activities, consists of three rooms; a reception room, equipped with two multi-media stations providing various information about the Park; an exhibition room equipped with information panels which illustrate and describe the principal environments included in the Park and the flora and fauna which live there; and a multi-purpose hall, ideal for exhibitions and meetings. Moreover, the museum has scientific equipment at its disposal which can be used for research and educational activities.