Ecomuseum of Walser culture. The Walser (contraction of the German Walliser, i.e. Vallesan people, living in the canton of Valais) are an ancient German population descending from Alemanni who settled in the Upper Valais around the 8th century at the foothills of Monte Rosa. During the 12th-13th century they moved to other locations in the Alpine area in Italy, Switzerloand, Liechtenstein and Austria. Between the 13th and 14th century they left a permanent mark in Valsesia through trails, terraces, canalisations, special settlements. The peculiarity of Valsesia ecomuseum lies in the possibility to visit all sites jointly, to have a general view of Valsesia and of its environmental and housing features linked to its centuries-old traditions. Many villages in the valley host ecomuseums: Alagna, Riva Valdobbia, Mollia, Rassa, Carcoforo, Rimasco, Rima San Giuseppe, Rimella (included in the network defined as “Walser culture” or “Upper” Valsesia around the Upper Valsesia Natural Park) together with Cellio and its valleys (or the Ecomsueum of of “Lower” Valsesia) also including the villages of Valduggia, Zuccaro and Breia, situated in the Monte Fenera Natural Park. Special mention should be made of Guardabosone: it is not formally recognised as an Ecomuseum but it is acknowledged de jure and de facto, through the will of its inhabitants to maintain the original medieval structure of the centre in accordance with the farming traditions illustrated in different museums.
The museum consists of a long route, touching different locations in the valley grouped into two entities:
– the Ecomuseum of Walser territory and culture in the Upper Valsesia, concerning the Municipalities of Alagna Valsesia, Riva Valdobbia, Rima, Rimasco, Carcoforo, Rimella and part of the territory of the Upper Valsesia Natural Park, the Municipalities of Campertogno, Mollia and Rassa;
– the Ecomuseum of the territory and of the peasant material culture of Lower Valsesia, concerning the Municipalities of Breia, Cellio and Valduggia, the Monte Feneral Natural Park and its houses with roofs of straw (the so-called “taragn”).
Along the route you come across old sawmills, olive oil mills, lime kilns and bread-baking ovens, presses, mills and forges, marble quarries and marble processing workshops, fresco workshops, small hamlets, museums, theatres, stone and wooden houses, churches, oratories and chapels, workshops providing classes on fresco and other painting and drawing techniques, evidence of the Walser, mountain and peasant culture.