Italian toolkit

Italy is the only country in the world where ecomuseums have multiplied in the last twenty years and they are now legally recognised in twelve Regions or Provinces. Since I consider participation as a goal and not only a method, I would like to draw your attention to the Italian ecomuseums Toolkit. Some of these tools (i.e. parish maps) were implemented for a long time in several Italian ecomuseums. Other tools, like cooperation agreements, are newer, but deserve attention because they can make a significant contribution to the promotion of active citizenship.

Raul Dal Santo - Landscape Ecomuseum - Parabiago (Milan - Italy)

New: Serbian version of the toolkit >>click to dowload the pdf

Parish Maps

Parish map consists in are a cartographic representation or any other similar item in which the community can identify itself. With a Parish Map the inhabitants of a place can represent their heritage, landscape, and knowledge in which they recognize themselves and that they wish to pass it down on to future generations (see Parish Maps highlight the way in which a community sees, perceives, and values its landscape, its memories, its transformations, its current reality and its wishes for the future. In Puglia Region this kind of map was used for the new “PPTR” (the Regional Landscape Planning). In homogeneous Italian areas, Parish Maps became tools both of planning and local development (e.g. Ecomuseums of Casentino, Gemonese, Trentino, Argentano, Bosco Mesola, Primaro-Ferrara, Orvietano and Trasimeno, Barbagia and Alto Flumendosa, Monti Sibillini, Biellese, etc..);

Landscape maps

They are analytical tools, allowing the reading of both tangible and intangible landscape; They are composed by the collection of overlaid maps, that would result in a Parish Map (e.g. Cervia Ecomuseum).

Participatory heritage inventory

It is a process of participation of the community. It is divided into steps levels:

1. Survey of architectural features of social memory;

2. Cultural heritage and resources inventory;

3. Cataloguing of common goods;

4. Definition of sustainable development actions.

It requires original approaches, interdisciplinary, and not dualistic, methods, and innovative practices of participation. (

River contracts

The river contract is a process of negotiated governance of a multiplicity of concurrent multi-sector and multi-scalar actions with the aim of restoring the landscape of river basins ( ). River contracts allow a community to adopt a system of rules and actions where the public utility policy, the economic efficiency, the social value and the environmental sustainability are equally involved in search for effective solutions to develop the river basin. The protagonists of a river contract are local people and institutions that want to define and develop policies for the care of the river. (e.g. "Lamone Common Good" - Villanova di Bagnacavallo - Municipalities of Lamone River basin, Emilia Romagna Region).

Statute of places

It is a "pact" between citizens and institutions that is:

1. A participated process of recognition of the distinctive characteristics of an area, identified as common goods;

2. A defined arrangement of "rights and duties", for the care, enhancement, storage, and processing of the area. It can be described as a "Constitutional Act for local development: a socially shared future project" (Magnaghi, 2000).

Short supply chains of local agricultural products

Their goals are:

1. To shorten the distance between producer and consumer;

2. To guarantee the quality of agricultural products;

3. The good use of resources;

4. The enhancement of landscapes and local identities in order to create integrated economies of local development.

The producers are at the center of short supply chains, but the collaboration between stakeholders (farmers, processing labs, markets, restaurants, school canteens, tourist agencies) is necessary in order to link who produce and who consume and to give the consumer the ability to both purchase products and know local techniques and culture (Grasseni, 2016). (e.g. Ecomuseums of Gemonese, Casentino, Biellese; and Ecomuseums Argenta fair).


The Training working group of the Italian Ecomuseums Network produced a basic program of training. It is divided into modules (the i-JET) and it is also open to non-members. (

Participative trails

This kind of participative planning of paths and trails is active mainly in ecomuseums of Piedmont and Trentino Regions (e.g. Ecomuseums of Biella area). They are aimed at interpreting the landscape and its interactions.

Landscape day

It is a national public event, organised yealy, that aims at drawing attention to the activities of Italian ecomuseums for the knowledge, the active protection, and the responsible transformation of the landscape, according to the European Landscape Convention goals. Since it was launched in 2007, ecomuseums from 11 different Italian Regions joined the project. An exhibition on the topic of landscape was also created (


It is a process that raises awareness among the citizens on material and immaterial heritage, and landscape resources of their territory. After the facilitation, the citizens can become facilitators for other residents, neighbors, friends, and stakeholders. Their aims would be to consider, inspire and plan the future of the heritage and landscape. The "Facilitator's Manual of Ecomuseums" gives techniques and tools about facilitation (Bortolotti, 2005).


It is a process that enables people to learn about their heritage, to appropriate the landscape culture, and to express shared governance of local development.

Interpretation and narration

Ecomuseums use creative and innovative tools, in a diachronic and multidisciplinary key, to interpret and communicate the genius loci and the cultural identity of a territory. Ecomuseums use narratives of places, by offering them to the citizens and different audiences, in appropriate ways: in particular, to local audiences (in order to provide a good acknowledgment of themselves) and to the visitors and general public (for a good knowledge of the landscape). The tools are interpretation centers, walks about heritage and landscape, performances with the use of different artistic form like theatre, multimedia products and publications.

Cooperation agreements

The ecomuseum, that is a museum of the community, is legitimated by the participation of the citizens. The ecomuseum plans and works not only “for” but also "with" the community, according to the logic of active citizenship and the subsidiarity principle. The ecomuseum arranges human resources, skills and personal knowledge of its partners, that are working together with full indipendence. Through cooperation agreements, the network of stakeholders can build a community and new energies can be released and valued in the local community. In this way, the ecomuseum becomes a tool of "shared amministration" of the cultural and local common goods.

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