Museums of the Waldesian Valleys
As is customary with mountain towns, every valley has its own traditions and heritage. Today, in the attempt to preserve age-old cultures, this means that every valley has its own museum.
The mountainous area of the Northern province of Turin and the Waldensian Valleys are no exception, but getting around all the different exhibitions – which are sometimes also hard to come across when doing your planning – can be confusing. So we’ve created a handy list for you with some of the best and most interesting museums of the area. Here it is:
Ecomuseo Scopriminiera – in Loc. Paola, 10060 Prali (TO), “enter the gallery aboard the miners’ train, feel the fresh air on your skin, be enveloped by the darkness of the subsoil broken only by the glitter of talc and amaze yourself in front of the absolute silence of the mine. Then, be ready to be startled by the strong vibration of jackhammers and the sudden explosions: all senses are involved in this magical game of contrasts that is Scopriminiera”.
The Scopriminiera ecomuseum, with its 3.5 km of tunnels and underground passages offers an extraordinary journey through time. With its network of external excursions it’s an opportunity to discover the life of the peasant-miner and the traces that the years of talc mining have left in the valley. In addition to the underground visits to the areas and industrial buildings adjacent to the entrance of the Paola mine, it is also possible to visit the permanent museum exhibition.
Museo Storico dell’Arma di Cavalleria – located in Viale Giolitti n.5, Pinerolo (TO), the museum displays historical uniforms, carriages, photographs and weapons of the Italian cavalry.
Museo Civico Etnografico / Museo del Legno – located in Via Giuseppe Brignone, 3 Pinerolo (TO) and positioned in the beautiful basement of Palazzo Vittone with its vaulted brick ceiling, the museum depicts rural life in the mountains and popular culture.
In addition to the reconstructions of traditional alpine barns, the museum displays a traditional bedroom, a craftsmen’s workplace and a winery as well as a wide selection of work tools. The museum also houses models that reproduce particular types of buildings such as a traditional Provencal house of the valleys and a mill.
Museo del costume e delle tradizioni delle genti Alpine – located in via S. Giovanni, Borgata Rivet, Pragelato (TO). Only open a few hours a week, the museum is dedicated to traditional Alpine costumes and clothes, as well as mountain traditions, crafts and tools.
Museo e Fondazione Valedese – located in Via Beckwith, 3, Torre Pellice (TO) and over 100 years old, the museum is dedicated to conserving Waldensian traditions and culture. The term “Waldensian Valleys” is the name by which the three valleys of western Piedmont are often known: Val Pellice, Val Germanasca and lower Val Chisone.
The long history of the Waldensian movement has left museums, sites and buildings in the area, all of which highlight the historical, cultural and religious events. The Waldensian communities have started to protect this rich cultural heritage since the late nineteenth century. Inside, among other artefacts and pictures on display, a rural home has been recreated with its barn and stables, kitchen and bedroom.
Museo Scuola Pramollo - situated in Località Pellenchi, 10060 Pramollo (To), the small museum is a reconstruction of an Italian school at the end of the 19th century. Original furnishings include the students’ chairs and desks, the teacher’s desk and wooden board, as well as photographs, registers and notebooks. The museum is open for visits every day upon prior request.
Ecomuseo Feltrificio Crumière - The Ecomuseum Feltrificio Crumière was inaugurated on July 14, 2006 on the grounds of an ancient felt fabric factory. In 1995, the existing factory building was transformed into a museum of industrial archeology and can be found on Piazza Jervis, 1, Villar Pellice (To).
Full recovery of the historical parts of the building was possible, consisting of a late nineteenth-century stone building, arranged on three floors, first used as a mill and then used as a felt factory. The transformation of the old building into a museum avoided its progressive deterioration, allowing the recovery of all the historical textile machineries and of the historical archive that accurately reconstructs the socio-economic life of the company. Entering the rooms, we find huge machines, some functioning and some still occasionally used by the factory. The permanent museum itinerary, consisting of the machineries of felt production are, from time to time, joined to thematic installations, temporary exhibitions and cultural events.
Museo Valdese di Rorà: situated in Via Maestra 1, Rorà (To) it is also known as the ecomuseum of stone. The exhibit consists of two sites, both greatly representative of community life.
The first site is located in the heart of the village, where one of the most ancient buildings hosts the Waldensian museum which, through artifacts and tools, testifies the rich and eventful life of the inhabitants of Rorà who were peasants and quarrymen.
The other site is an open air exhibit: the historical quarry of Tupinet. No longer active, it effectively represents the condition of the original 19th century quarries. The track, along which life-sized mannequins have been placed, unfolds through the mountains depicting the various phases of quarry-work. The visitor explores and rediscovers techniques and tools and working conditions.
Museo del Gusto – The only structure of its kind in Italy, the Taste Museum of Frossasco (Via Principe Amedeo, 42) offers a virtual journey tracing nutrition from the prehistoric era up to modern times. The museum also organises discovery itineraries dedicated to various typical foods through multimedia stations dedicated to the 5 senses. It is also home to the International Cooking School and also has a Wine Boutique available for tastings.
Among other minor museums in the area, are:
- Museo del Mutuo Soccorso – Located in Via Silvio Pelvico 19, Pinerolo, it focuses on mutual aid and was the first mutual aid foundation to be created in Italy. Today, the museum displays historical photographs and has temporary exhibitions but is only open one day a week.
- Gianvella a Luserna S.Giovanni - is a museum dedicated to Giosuè Gianavello, head of the local resistance movement.
- Museo della Balsiglia di Massello - the museum remembers the siege that the heights of Pan di Zucchero underwent.
- Museo Scuola Odin Bertot di Angrogna - a historical building built at the begging of the 20th century, the edifice, an old school, has a section dedicated to a famous benefactor of the area, Beckwith.
- Museo delle donne Valdesi di Angrogna - is a museum dedicated to all important women in Waldensian history.
- Museo di Rodoretto di Prali: the edifice houses everyday scenes from peasant, rural mountain life.
- Collezione Ferrero-Scuola Latina di Pomaretto: the exhibition focuses on ancient mountain crafts.
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