The Ecomuseum of Pastoralism was officially founded in 2000 in Pontebernardo – an alpine village located at 1,400 meters above sea level, in the municipality of Pietraporzio – in conjunction with the inauguration of the exhibition “La Routo – On the roads of transhumance between the Alps and the sea“.
Its conception dates back many years before, when the then Comunità Montana Valle Stura undertook a path both of cultural rebirth and of economic revitalization of the activity of pastoralism and of the whole context connected to it.
The Ecomuseum deals on one side with the recovery of the sheep breed Sambucana, autochthonous of the valley, which in the 1980s risked disappearing; on the other side of the rediscovery of the cultural heritage inherent in the pastoral world of the Stura Valley and its offshoots in the plain of the French Crau.
The Ecomuseum of Pastoralism is a path – draio in the language of oc – that aims to bring out the pastoralism as an important economic resource and enhance the wealth of knowledge related to this activity.
The museum is entitled “Na draio per vioure“, expression that in the local language of oc means “A path to live”. It is proposed a path where the visitor is invited to discover how sheep farming in the Valley is a reality still alive and an important economic and cultural resource. It thus presents a journey from birth to the evolution of pastoralism in the different areas bordering the Mediterranean. The story, punctuated by the sounds and voices of the pastoral world, is developed through objects, archival documents, photographs and films that make it their own, making the experience alive.
The ecomuseum also consists of a small dairy, also used for educational activities, where resident shepherds prepare sheep’s cheese (traditionally called toumo), a laboratory of sheep meat salami, a restaurant and meat sales point and a sales point for sambucana wool products.
In a structure in front of the Ecomuseum there is the Rams Centre for the selection of garments, managed by the consortium “l’Escaroun“.
The Consortium of breeders “l’Escaroun”
The first initiative aimed at the recovery of the breed was the involvement of a dozen breeders strongly interested and willing to collaborate with the experts of the breed to a program of recovery and enhancement of the sheep Sambucana.
In 1988 was born so the Consortium for the enhancement of the sheep breed Sambucana “l’Escaroun” – in oc language means “small flock” – based in Demonte, which has designed a center for the selection of rams, a sheep exhibition Sambucana and deals with the marketing of sheep products.
After the creation of the “Agnello Sambucano Garantito” brand, in 1992 the “Lou Barmaset” Cooperative was born, which deals with the marketing of lambs.
The wool of the Sambucana sheep
To enhance the wool product, the Consortium and the Ecomuseum of Pastoralism have engaged in particular with regard to the spinning of wool, with the birth of the group of spinners “La Coulounho” – in the language of oc means “the distaff” – courses have begun to be set up in order to safeguard old uses which risk disappearing.
The paths of the Ecomuseum
Near the Ecomuseum there are 3 itineraries to follow through evocative landscapes on the trail of shepherds, farmers and smugglers: an excursion leads to the beautiful Ferriere, while an itinerary suitable for children leads to Sambuco, precious jewel of the Stura Valley. For more information check HERE.