Ecomuseum of Ornica

Ecomuseum of Ornica

The old town ecomuseum/ Spread out hotels – Old houses and and ancient trades

The old town ecomuseum – Since its foundation in 2009 Borgo Rurale di Ornica has involved the whole community to ensure the safeguard, conservation, reappraisal and promotion of the typical peasant culture of the area, along with the recovery of the traditions and ways of life that have followed each other through the centuries. This involved the rehabilitation and upgrading of the historic town centre and of alpine pastures, taking advantage of the positive impact on the tourism and hospitality industry that this implies. The three essential and most significant components of the Ecomuseum include:

  • The territory. The Ecomuseum is not only a building or a place but includes all the municipal area, from the historic town to alpine pastures, representing the territory’s peculiarities and making them more visible and accessible.
  • The culture related to tangible resources (buildings in the medieval town centre and churches, thematic itineraries, educational farm, meeting places, etc.), intangible heritage (knowledge, flavours, tales, customs, crafts, traditions etc..) and landscape is the focus of the ecomuseum, in the knowledge that this is the very identity of Ornica and of its Community.
  • The heritage. The Community is the real actor and subject of the Ecomuseum, because its existence is justified as long as there is the community’s active participation, and its evolution, in the space and over time, has shaped the landscape, created the territory’s heritage and “established a pact” to take care of it.

This objective – challenge has been taken up enthusiastically by Ornica’s Municipal Adnministration, along with the various entities in the town: Alpine groups, Fishermen, Avis, AIDO, Library, retail businesses etc., coordinated by the Women’s cooperatives in Mountain Women’s Cooperative, comprising Ornica’s women to run the widespread hotel system, the first in Lombardy. Counting on the willingness of our Women and of all local Associations to collaborate is extremely satisfying and follows on the ideas suggested by Hugues de Varine, founding father of the ecomuseum concept, considering the cooperation between local actors the basis of an ecomuseum effectiveness. Since 2010 the Ecomuseo di Ornica has been member of the Network of Lombardy’s ecomuseums (R.E.L.), an institution involved in training, research, exchange and cooperation between Lombardy’s ecomuseums, and has promoted shared programmes.

Spread out hotels –Old houses and ancient trades

 With the launch of the “widespread hotel” system, the old houses of the rural village have been turned into apartments for tourists, although keeping the name of the owners’ family. In some buildings, situated in the historic town centre, the Cooperative of «Mountain Women» has organized a number of laboratories to rediscover the village ancient crafts:  milk, wool, wood and iron processing activities that have been for centuries the main livelihoods of the small mountain community. One of the amazing traits of Ornica’s landscape is the high number of mountain chalets surrounding the historic small town. Their presence suggests the extensive use of land for animal farming and agriculture in the past. Some of these chalets, appropriately renovated, have been turned into dairies, alpine farmhouses and rural lodges for tourists. Chalets were naturally a  reference point for summer mountain pastures.



Name of the Ecomuseum: Ecomuseo di Ornica

Geographical location: Italy, Lombardy region, province of Bergamo

Year of establishment: 2009

Network: Network of Lombardy ecomuseums