Museo Etnografico della Val Varatella


The museum is set up in the historical palace of the Earls D’Aste, which subsequently passed to the Marquisate Del Carretto of the Balestrino branch. The architectural structure presents diverse features owed to expansions throughout the centuries (from 14th to 18th centuries).


Inside this palace some important people were born. Certainly the most relevant was Giovanni Battista D’Aste (16 June 1566 – Roma 20 September  1620) an Augustinian orator and theologian at Archiginnasio della Sapienza in Rome. Pope Pious the Fifth nominated him Vicar General of the Augustinian Order and he was awarded the position of papal sacristan. Among the relevant guests we remember Elisabetta Farnese, daughter of Odoardo duke of Parma, married by second marriage to the king of Spain Philip the Fifth. She was received in Toirano, with her entourage, in 1714, by the Marquess Geronima D’Aste.


In the aftermath of the war the palace was divided into several allotments, among which the portion of the building now the property of the Municipality of Toirano, where the multiple sections of the Museum are spread out over three floors. The collection includes approximately three thousand pieces and hand-made objects, pertaining to the ancient activities practiced in the area of Toirano, and in Western Liguria in general. The collections, located on the first part of the ground and first floors, are divided into eighteen sections describing various types of activities: farm work, crafts, domestic life, folklore, faith, and local Varatella Valley historical aspects.


The second part of the visit proposes the viewing of five rooms of the first “Nobility Floor” of the palace where the aristocratic ambiance has been recreated. The visit offers a general picture of the habits and uses of an inland community of Liguria.


History of the Collection


The first exhibit in the museum of Toirano was built in the 1980s by a group of local volunteers who gathered about 90 objects, then shown in a section dedicated exclusively to ranching on the ground floor of the ancient Palazzo Comunale. The initial collection remained as such until 1997 when the Municipality decided, as part of the palace restructuring, to transfer artifacts from that collection to the D’Aste - Del Carretto palace stables, giving Orlando Boccone, curator, the responsibility for the total reconstruction and coordination.  The initial collection was, in part, retained, excluding some of the more modern and less significant pieces and augmenting it with others that continued to arrive through time thanks to capillary local population awareness building and engagement, most of all around Toirano.

Spontaneous donations were at the base of collection enhancement, together with the oral and written testimonies that, since 1997, have been added to this exhibit. The exhibit is the custodian of the memories of a place that also offers, on top of the splendid tourism attraction of the caves, a medieval hamlet, testament of a history partly narrated through the museum’s collections.  Such collections, scrupulously included in reconstructions, aim at preserving as much as possible, so that the noble origins of a rural society are not forgotten. Origins that, through hard labor, traced thousands of years of history.

Nativity Scenes

Nativity Scenes

Since 1997, the Val Varatella Ethnographic Museum organizes the event entitled “I[..]

Christmas Exhibit

Christmas Exhibit

The Christmas exhibit called “Images and objects from the Christmas tradition&rdq[..]