Parabiago’s landscape ecomuseum


Parabiago’s landscape ecomuseum

Case Study Contents

1. Ecomuseum Data

Ecomuseum Name

Parabiago’s landscape ecomuseum

Date of Creation



P.zza della Vittoria, 7 - Parabiago (MI) - Italy


Tel. fisso: 0331/493002
Tel. mobile: 3292107213

1.1. Description of the Ecomuseum

In 2008, the ecomuseum of Parabiago (Italy) was founded in the urban context of Milan, characterised by inhabitants’ inability in feeling the value of the living heritage. Through participation processes, the empowerment of people, the large use of principles of subsidiarity and co-responsibility, the ecomuseum facilitated the work of a wide network of stakeholders; this network was able to mapping the heritage, to take care of it, to manage and regenerate it. The ecomuseum is working not only to implement but also to inspire, also beyond its border, methodological, relational and social changes. Such changes, in turn, contributed to modify the landscape and make some Italian Constitution “dreams” real.

1.2. Members of the Ecomuseum

Name of the person in charge

Raul Dal Santo

Ecomuseum Coordinator
Phone: +39 0331493002 - mobile phone: +39 3292107213
Number of ecomuseum team members

3 team members

Dal Santo Raul – Coordinator – Degree Natural science

Vignati Lucia – Technical Employee, Agenda 21 Office – Documentation Center – Degree Natural Science

Dossena Silvia – Technical Employee, Agenda 21 Office -Documentation Center – Degree Biological Science


Over the years, the Ecomuseum has performed workshops landscape education activities aimed not only at school teens, but also at their parents and grandparents, acquaintances and elderly people in the nursing home, with lectures, guided tours of the areas and participatory planning activities.

The objectives of these didactic activities can be summarized as follows:

  1. knowledge of our landscape: identifying the elements that compose it, understanding the differences between the various landscapes and observing their transformations.
  2. learning to see, as a prerequisite for learning to act correctly.
  3. to respect, that is, to preserve the landscape.
  4. Pass on the landscape to future generations. According to the logic of sustainable development, which is the basis of the Agenda 21 process, the landscape must also be preserved, without compromising its quality, and passed onto future generations.

Internships and degree theses have been activated on-site with the Milanese universities and upper secondary schools in the area.

Training / information meetings on-site were also held for the Technical-Political Committee and for the teachers of the classes participating in the educational projects.

The ecomuseum has contributed to virtual national and international conferences on ecomuseums.

Some Examples of Training offered by the Ecomuseum

Workshop educational activitiesLandscape educationChildren, teens, adult
Stage on-siteStage for upper secondary student89 upper secondary students
On-site degree internshipinternship for degree thesis14 graduate student of various university
On-site thematic studyInternship for the development of a thematic study4 students of Milan Polytechnic
Workshop eventsExhibition, landscape day, Mulino dayCitizens and visitors
The Ecomuseums role for the development goals of United Nation 2030 and climate action September 30th 2021- virtual

The Ecomuse attended the virtual World Forum for Democracy, an international conference on the methods and tools that ecomuseums can make available for fighting the climate crisis and for ecological and supportive development.

The Ecomuseum also participated at the pre-cop26 All4 Climate where the Ecomuseums wondered what actions could be taken to combat the climate crisis.

Italian Ecomuseums’ landscape week from 21 to 25 June 2021 - virtualThe Ecomuseum attended the virtual webinars with which the Italian Ecomuseum Network intended to reflect on the ecomuseums’ rule in the landscape’s care, with the participation, in the section of 24 June, "Landscape is short supply chains and circular economy.X
Cultural landscape: museums and tourism in metropolitan city, March 10 2016 on-siteThe Ecomuseum attended on-site the conference held at the Bicocca University of Milan on the museums’ rule as a key element of metropolitan cultural landscapes.X
Educational and didactic services of scientific museums, 30-31 May 2014. On siteThe Ecomuseum presented on-site its experience at the Master Level I "Protection and management of naturalistic and historical-scientific assets" of Siena’ s University.X
The Ecomuseum on tour - 19 and 30 May 2009 on-siteThe Ecomuseum presented on-site its experience at the Faculty of Architecture and Society of the Politecnico of Milan and it gave a lesson at the refresher course for ecomuseum operators in Friuli (Italian Region).X

Some Examples of Training Needs Identified

Participatory management and planningImplementation of tools and methods for the management and stakeholders’ active participationThrough guide material, dedicated website / online learning course or other online resources (e.g. webinar, tutorial, video), seminar / short training, continuing education, expert assistance in the development of new projectsX
Museum educationTake over new creative and innovative teaching methods.X
Communication for EcomuseumImprovement of communication skills towards partnerstnerX
Technological solutions for inclusionTake over of new methods to increase the ability to innovate its processes, but also its services through a wider, more diversified and inclusive technologyX

2. Gallery

3. Funding and Resources

Type of entity
Official status
Cultural institution acknowledged by Lombardy Region

Annual budget

Outputs 2021 2022
Employees 28.800 28.800
Prints, publications, website 0 0
Enhancement Ecomuseum and visiting itineraries 3.000 3.000
Visiting itineraries maintenance 11.000 11.000
Ecoheritage (travel expenses, international meeting, miscellaneous and secretarial costs, intellectual products) 15.000 15.000
Total 57.800 57.800
Revenue 2021 2022
Municipal co-financing for Museum activity including route maintenance 42.800 42.800
Ecoheritage international research – money from our participation in Ecoheritage 15.000 15.000
Total 57.800 57.800

The Parabiago’s landscape Ecomuseum is part of the process of the local Agenda 21 of Parabiago that started in 2003 thanks to the contributions of the European Union. Agenda 21 developed in its first phase a Report on the environmental, social and economic situation of the city. Subsequently with the Decree n. 15075 of 8/1/2007, the Lombardy Region, as part of the Regional Development European Fund relating to the “Promotion of local Agendas 21: energy, landscape, tourism and biodiversity”, assigned a contribution to Parabiago’s city for financing of the project “Parabiago’s landscape Ecomuseum” equal to 80% of the total cost.

The financial plan of Parabiago’s landscape Ecomuseum came from the budget of the Parabiago’s Municipality, as a managing body that guarantees self-sustainability.

Over the years the Ecomuseum has received funding from other Bodies to develop specific projects:

in 2007 the Milan’s Province financed the Virgilian Itinerary as part of the “Il Metrobosco” project, a visiting itinerary to discover the landscape in Roman times;

– The Lombardy Region financed 50% of the total cost of five Ecomuseum projects in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015: two relating to the enhancement of the same, one relating to the creation of educational activities for schools and two relating to the creation / realization of cultural or natural paths.

A contribution was obtained from a local company that collaborates with the Ecomuseum, in particular for a text published in 2010.

The Ecomuseum is also a partner of the Olona Green Way project, a co-financed project since 2017 by the Lombardy Region, Parco dei Mulini and the Municipality of San Vittore Olona with funds from the Rural Development Plan, and the “The valley calls you back” project.

Finally, from 2020 the Parabiago’s Ecomuseum is a partner of the project 100% funded by the European Union for the project “Ecoheritage – ecomuseums as a collaborative approach for the recognition, management and protection of cultural and natural heritage”, as a part of ERASMUS + programming KA.

4. Social and Community Participation

  1. The parish map of Parabiago was started in 2007. A working group constituted within the forum of citizens met regularly to design the map. The working group first composed a questionnaire that was submitted to the citizens. The working group recorded the cultural heritage in accordance with the results of a survey and the maps realised by local schools. The map was printed in 2008 and distributed to all the families of Parabiago. To update and implement its contents, a multimedia map was realised. – Active participation..
  2. Permanent participatory processes were started in 2007. A complex network of actors succeeded in knowing the community heritage, taking care of it, managing, and regenerating it, realizing cooperation agreements that were implemented with great human resources. A model of governance and a territory project were created that were able to address and integrate physical, managerial and procedural aspects, and to bridge the general interests with interests of the private sector. – Active participation.
  3. Pilot actions coordinated by the ecomuseum from 2007/8. Activities involving several local actors on thematic areas chosen during the participatory process. – Active participation.
  4. Participatory planning of ecomuseum itineraries since 2007, Institutions, associations, citizens designed some itineraries that illustrate the main elements of the community heritage. – Active participation.
  5. Educational activities since 2007 a continuous educational process of cooperative learning was realised and it is still going on. Active participation.
  6. Support for the actions carried out by active partners and citizens according to the subsidiarity principle and through citizen empowerment since 2016. – Active participation.

4.1. Local Population

Number of inhabitants of the territory/locality where the ecomuseum is located
The town is inhabited by about 28.000 people.
Number of members of the local population involved in the ecomuseum
about 50 people, even if not continuously involved in the activity of the ecomuseum in presence. About 20 people who collaborate by web.

Ways of participation

The ecomuseum has taken on the role of facilitator of a complex network of actors that has made it possible to know the landscape through participation and cooperative learning paths, the enhancement of skills, knowledge and resources of the territory, the extensive use of principles of subsidiarity and co-responsibility, the ecomuseum has taken on the role of facilitator of a complex network of actors who have made it possible to get to know the landscape.

Through collaboration agreements with citizens it was also possible to care for, manage and regenerate the cultural and landscape heritage, in the general interest. The agreements stipulated so far are both formal and informal in nature. In 2016 the Ecomuseum approved the regulation for the active participation of the community and for the promotion of resilience processes for the care, regeneration of urban spaces, social cohesion and safety.

The Ecomuseum has sought not only to implement, but also to inspire methodological, relational and social changes which in turn have contributed to changing the landscape.

The Ecomuseum is made up of a Technical-Political Committee aimed at monitoring the process of involving local actors and defining the Action Program (municipal employees involved and Councilors), by a Scientific Committee (municipal employees and volunteers), as well as by volunteers involved in the various activities carried out by the Ecomuseum or of which the Ecomuseum favors the realization.

4.2. Social milieu

Number of visitors from the territory/locality where the ecomuseum is located
It was not measurable
Number of foreign visitors
It was not measurable

Forms of involvement

The Parabiago’s Ecomuseum has activated and / or coordinated projects useful for cultural tourism, visiting itineraries and nature walks, communicating the tourist offer of the Ecomuseum to the hoteliers’ area representative.

  1. Audio-guided itineraries. The Ecomuseum made some participatory itineraries that illustrate the main elements of the community heritage through physical (in the city) and virtual (on the web and smartphone application) routes.
  2. The best activities / experiences that the Ecomuseum offers visitors are the guided tours organized on specific themes
  3. Local products. In 2014 the Ecomuseum presented a collaboration agreement with some farmers, artisans and traders for the local products promotion with a short supply chain. The products with the Municipal Designation of Origin (De.CO) of the Ecomuseum were born from tradition (how it was grown and produced in the past) and from innovation (how to produce local food while respecting the environment and at the same time ecosystem services of which the landscape is the most important).

4.3. Website analisis

Type of intervention made possible by the website

Only information Chance to suggest actions Complaints or Compliments Purchase of tickets Open access or under registration
Open access

Kinds of suggestions available

Proposing museum objectives On funding issues About museum planning On accessibility

Quality of Feedback

Receipt message is sent The proposal is discussed at the museum management level Results of the discussion are sent

The Ecomuseum makes available to everybody, through its website, a great deal of multimedia documentation: more than 3,000 web pages in 7 languages (Italian, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German and the local dialect), 7,000 images, 250 e-books, 200 audio files, 30 videos. A huge number of stakeholders, both from the local context, and from all over the word, can benefit from this documentation, through the license Creative Common; this kind of licence permits to share, use, modify and build upon a work with every tool and format, for every purpose, simply by citing the source.

Text was translated by high school students in the framework of the work-linked training.

The website has a very large number of pages but not all with graphics suitable for mobile devices. The large amount of data is not cataloged with modern methods. Some information is available on external websites with the overall search difficulty.

5. Innovation and Research

The innovation for the Parabiago’s landscape ecomuseum is the change that concerns both the methodological dimension (the working method) and the relational and social aspects (cultural changes) to change the physical dimension (improve the landscape) is in fact a modification positive that trigger changes to improve the landscape

  1. The parish map was the first tool used by the ecomuseums, according to the model of English parish maps. It is a participatory mapping of a landscape, resulting from a shared reading of the tangible and intangible heritage. Through the parish map the ecomuseum achieved these goals:
    • the realization of the participatory inventory of the heritage and of the long term action plan of the ecomuseum;
    • the activation of community projects for the good use of the heritage.

    An interactive and multimedia map was carried out to make it easily upgradeable. In 2010 and 2011 the Ecomuseum contributed as a technical partner to the realisation of a parish map of the Mills Park.
    Among the impacts: greater awareness of citizens, sense of places, development of ecomuseum visit routes.

  2. The Ecomuseum has facilitated the creation of collaboration agreements with the network of actors for the care, communication / interpretation, enhancement and good use of the community heritage. Collaboration agreements were therefore activated with citizens for the care, management and regeneration of cultural heritage and the landscape in the general interest, as required by the principle of horizontal subsidiarity pursuant to art. 118, last paragraph, of the Italian Constitution. The Ecomuseum thus becomes a facilitator to release energy, to share resources in the common interest within the community itself. The agreements signed up till now are both formal and informal in nature. To regulate and promote the shared administration, the City of Parabiago, manager of the Ecomuseum, in 2016 approved the regulation for the active participation of the community, for the promotion of resilience processes for the care and regeneration of urban spaces, social and security cohesion. Through the instrument of collaboration agreements, thanks to this precious network of actors, new energies have been released and enhanced in the local community with positive impacts on the shared management of cultural heritage.
  3. The Ecomuseum proposed a project on the theme of the Milan EXPO “Feeding the planet, Energy for life!” to the local community in 2015. The short food supply chain of the Parabiago bread was activated by many local stakeholders. 170 hectares of agricultural fields are cultivate with the conservative agriculture which intervenes in a minimum manner on the ground; it preserves biodiversity and humus, it provides cover crops after the harvest and avoids the development of weeds; the fields are fertilized by the compost produced in a local farm from vegetable waste coming from the public and private gardens of Parabiago. Local bakeries sell the bread that is also served in School canteens.This was the first of many products with a trademark that certifies that the product is made in Parabiago (Municipal Denomination of Origin, De.C.O. is the Italian acronym).
  4. In 2019 the Ecomuseum joined, with the Parco dei Mulini and numerous partners, the “The valley calls you back” project, aimed at designing an Integrated Territorial Plan of Culture (PIC-Ter) in the Milanese Olona Valley. The project responds to the Framework Culture Law of Lombardy n. 25/2016. The main purpose is the coordination between all the subjects of the culture of the territory, with possible positive effects of social, environmental and also economic development.

6. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Number of SDGs that the ecomuseum is working on
Preferential SDGs

SDG-related projects/actions

Food production and quality of lifeContinue to develop the local economy in order to have experience of a short supply chain of agricultural products that combine agriculture-environment-tourism-culture- welfare.Good health and wellnessThe Parabiago ecomuseums tried not only to implement, but also to inspire changes, primarily in methodological, relational and social dimensions, that in turn have contributed to change the quality of landscape, even beyond the border of the ecomuseum
Education and sociocultural activitiesMonitor and report progress of results obtained about educational projects on sustainable development, the landscape enhancement and cultural heritage.Quality education
Agreement for the Olona RiverRediscovery and enhancement of the common heritage, so that the Olona river, the pivot of the development of this territory, returns to be the river of civilization, culture and nature that has been for millennia and reassembles a new habitable city around its course.Clean water and sanitation
Food production and quality of lifeContinue to develop the local economy in order to have experience of a short supply chain of agricultural products that combine agriculture-environment-tourism-culture- welfare.Satisfactory work and economic growth
Training and researchPromote new partnerships with stakeholders dealing with the government of territory.Sustainable cities and communities
Food production and quality of lifeContinue to develop the local economy in order to have experience of a short supply chain of agricultural products that combine agriculture-environment-tourism-culture- welfare. Responsible consumption and production
Circular economy, products of agro-ecology, education and forestationbread of Parabiago, ecosystem services, “Forestami” project (3 million trees by 2030 in the metropolitan city)Climate action
Put landscape at the centreIts goals are to study, conserve, enhance and show the community heritage, especially the landscapeLife on earth
Focus on sustainable local developmentThanks to a new socialization between stakeholders and the large use of the subsidiarity principle some heritage’s elements got new life or new use in order to improve social, environmental and economic development.Peace, justice and strong institutions
Landscape and planningWork as partner with public institutions to continue and improve implementation of the European Landscape ConventionShared goals

The Ecomuseum has recognized the responsibility of:

  • promote a sustainable, circular economy aimed at the integral development of all people, especially those most in difficulty;
  • recognize the cultural landscape as a common good to be protected and lived in a sustainable way, both environmentally and economically;
  • respect the cultural heritage both locally and globally;
  • reiterate that cultural heritage is a very important resource since it concerns traditions, social relations, the meaning of places, their identity;
  • raise awareness of local products, enhance their production chains, circulate products in ecomuseum communities;
  • activate, in ecomuseums and community museums, ever closer collaborative relationships to create a better world, with particular regard to courage, ethical innovation, social commitment and responsibility, resilience.

7. COVID-19

During the lockdown periods the Parabiago ecomuseum continued its mission of care and interpretation of the living cultural heritage, empowering the community on the sustainable use of heritage for integral development and strengthening the social awareness and self-awareness of identity collectively shared. Measures aimed at containing the pandemic have led the ecomuseum to explore new ways of involving, inspiring and supporting the public in an attempt to meet the needs of the local community.

The epidemic situation in progress unexpectedly has also reserved positive surprises for us, providing us with opportunities to:

  • experimenting with new models of behavior, new ways of relating to reality in the making;
  • the web and social channels have proved to be useful for building a fruitful collaboration network between ecomuseums on the theme of cultural heritage;
  • guarantee a circular economy and proximity tourism;
  • reaffirm the importance of continuity and self-sustainability in the construction process of the ecomuseum.

During the social distancing, the Parabiago ecomuseum carried out these activities:

  1. improve the digital accessibility of assets,
  2. promote “proximity tourism” based on virtual and self-guided tours,
  3. staging of conferences and video broadcasts,
  4. the promotion of local products.
  5. local, national and international networking

Methodological and cultural changes have been achieved. Actions and methods were tested, albeit remotely and in compliance with lockdown restrictions, to support and connect local communities and ecomuseums and regional, national and global networks with each other. The Parabiago Ecomuseum worked within the network of Italian ecomuseums to devise the Cooperation Charter “Distant but United. The ecomuseums and community museums of Italy and Brazil ”have achieved the result of a renewed awareness of the need to act locally and think globally. The charter contains the common vision, challenges and responsibilities, discussed, adopted and accepted by both national groups, as a reference for joint actions.


Lisa Pigozzi, Nunzia Borrelli, Raul dal Santo, Silvia Dossena, Lucia Vignati

Scientific Coordinators

Leandro França, Barbara Kazior, Óscar Navajas, Manuel Parodi-Álvarez, Lisa Pigozzi, Raul dal Santo, Julio Seoane, Maristela Simão