Ecomuseo Valle Elvo e Serra


The Ecomuseo Valle Elvo e Serra (EcoVES) was formally established in 1998 by a group of citizens among the 15 municipalities in the Elvo valley (Biella, Italy). Since then, EcoVES has been constantly promoting initiatives based on an active roll of the inhabitants in the protection of their tangible and intangible heritage.

Several thematic sites

EcoVES is located in several sites, scattered on the valley, where different conservation themes have been developed: rural alpine traditions at Bagneri (in Muzzano municipality), traditional vernacular architecture at La Trappa (in Sordevolo), pre-industrial and industrial iron manufactory history in Netro and Mongrando, the local emigration archives in Donato, pre-historical and contemporary gold panning activities in Vermogno and La Bessa (Zubiena), local religious traditions in Graglia, history of pipe organs manufacture in Occhieppo Inferiore.

Protecting the past for building the future

Along these years, the EcoVES volunteers have launched different projects together with the local actors both at the provincial and at the regional level, involving citizens of all ages, social status and cultural background. One of the key ideas in the EcoVES mission is to help inhabitants in regaining their bond with the landscape they live in, a bond that the contemporary way of living and the mass-consumerism have contribute to weaken or destroy. Contemporary inhabitants have lost the knowledge that our ancestors had, on how landscape should be protected and transformed at the same time. Knowing the history, vocation and traditions of a place is then a mean to acquire new consciousness in the process of shaping the landscape to meet the challenges posed by our times. A concept that has been inspired by Hugues de Varine, one of the “fathers” of the ecomuseums, in his book “Le racines du future: le patrimonie au service du developpement local”.

  • The main initiatives, undertaken over ten years, can be summarized in the following list:
  • Restoration of traditional local buildings (a water driven iron mill, a cloister, a sawmill, smokehouses for chestnuts, stables and barns in the Bagneri alpine village, the Café in one of the XIX-century workers circles). Some of the buildings have been converted to sustainable tourism or educational activities.
    Biographical research on important people born in the Elvo valley and in the Serra area (writers, artists, politicians, scientists, etc.). Thanks to these studies, a series of exhibitions has been organised and a large series of titles published.
  • Research on emigration from the Elvo valley and the Serra area was carried out over several years and involved a group of volunteers together with university lecturers and experts. The results have been published in a series of texts comprising 6 titles and have provided the inspiration for a photographic and documentary exhibition. Among the books published, to give an idea of the extent of the study, there is a biographical dictionary with 6000 entries.
  • A campaign entitled “Lattevivo” in support of small-scale local dairy production and sustainable agriculture. The campaign led EcoVES to participate in important contexts such as the Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto exhibitions in Turin.
  • Over the years, EcoVES has organised public events such as exhibitions, thematic walks, popular theatre, excursions, educational projects, conferences and seminars. It has also made a series of documentaries, interviewed significant figures from the valley and promoted the publication of several texts.
    Over the years, EcoVES has also worked on tools such as community maps and participated, as a partner or promoter, in campaigns for landscape protection.

EcoVES and landscape

In 2013 EcoVES, in partnership with the Muggio Valley Ethnological Museum (Switzerland), presented the “Shared landscape” project as part of the EU’s Interreg initiative and received funding. This is a transnational cooperation project focusing on Articles 5 and 6 of the European Landscape Convention. The project takes place in three municipalities, two in the Biella area and one in Switzerland, and lasts 18 months. CivilScape has been accepted by the two organisations as an observer body in this project.

EcoVES is also one of the associations that have been part of the Biella Cultural Heritage and Landscape Observatory since its foundation in 1999. Since then, the two organisations have worked together on landscape issues, promoting among other things two major public campaigns.

Inspired by the European Landscape Convention, the Biella Cultural Heritage and Landscape Observatory promoted the first three-year campaign “Together for the Landscape” from 1999 to 2001. A few years later, when the Convention was ratified by the Italian government in 2006, the Observatory promoted a second campaign entitled “Together in the Landscape” which lasted, with various activities, until 2008. EcoVEs was a partner in both initiatives.

Between 2006 and 2008, EcoVES was also one of the partners in a pilot project for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention in the province of Biella. This was an initiative developed with the collaboration of several local administrations, the Province and the RECEP-ENELC network.

Starting from the same period, the Valle Elvo e Serra Ecomuseum became part of the Local Worlds ecomuseum network ( and, in this context, promotes the annual Landscape Day on 21st June.



Giuseppe PidelloAssociazione per l’Ecomuseo Valle Elvo e Serra – OnlusPiazza Vittorio Veneto, 813898 Occhieppo Superiore (BI)
Phone: 015 591043E-mail:


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