The museums of the Regole of Cortina d'Ampezzo are three museums that have been built to keep alive the culture and tradition in the Ampezzo valley.
They were created by the "Regole d'Ampezzo", a centuries-old institution for the protection of the territory, established with the purpose of preserving forests and pastures from abuse and ensuring a responsible use by the "Regolieri", the original people of Cortina.
To date, the tasks of the Regole have evolved to include the management of their property, including their cultural heritage.
... are built to keep alive the culture and tradition in Ampezzo...
To simplify the job of the Regole as much as possible, we could say that the territory of Cortina is owned by all the original families and no one of them can sell, build or speculate on these lands without the majority of those entitled to vote agreeing, thus guaranteeing the protection of the territory for many centuries.
The work done by this institution has been so well done, that two famous Ampezzo citizens decided to give their own property collection to the Regole d'Ampezzo, in order to preserve it for future generations.
We are talking about Mario Rimoldi and Rinaldo Zardini, to whom the two eponymous museums run by the Regole d'Ampezzo are dedicated.
The Modern Art Museum "Mario Rimoldi" is an art gallery housed inside the "Ciasa de Ra Regoles" the Palaeontological Museum "Rinaldo Zardini" and the Ethnographic museum "Regole d'Ampezzo" are housed inside the Alexander Hall, a multi-purpose center located a few steps from the center of Cortina, that can be easily reached also walking.
Sometimes, inside these structures, it's possible to view temporary exhibitions, often curated by the guests of Cortina, such as Vittorio Sgarbi, a famous Italian art critic. In the next chapters we'll see the three museums in detail.
Modern Art Museum "Mario Rimoldi"
The Modern Art Museum "Mario Rimoldi" in Cortina d'Ampezzo was inaugurated in 1974, after the donation by the widow of Mario Rimoldi, Mrs. Rosa Braun, of her family collection to the "Regole d'Ampezzo".
The collection boasts over 300 paintings and is considered one of the most complete private collections of modern Italian art.
In the museum are shown the works of many great Italian painters of the early 1900s, including artists such as De Chirico, Morandi, Martini, De Pisis and Rotella.
The exhibition, developed on two floors, allows you to see many great paintings, such as "the French Soldier" of de Pisis, "the Bathers" of Carena, "the Zolfara" of Guttuso, the "San Sebastiano" of Garbari, the "Ile des charmes" by Savinio and the "Concerto" by Campigli, together with many others.
It is surely worth a visit, whether you are an art lover or just curious, also because the price of the ticket is really honest. For more information, we invite you to visit the official website of the Rimoldi Museum.
... artists such as De Chirico, Morandi, Martini, De Pisis and Rotella...
Rimoldi has been not only a great art lover, but also a very important character for the cultural growth of Cortina d'Ampezzo, both as mayor and as president of several cultural associations.
His life was very intense, after he studied hotel management in Rome, he became passionate about art and started collecting works of emerging artists, such as De Pisis.
With the expansion of his collection he knew many representatives of the artistic environment of the time, which led him to organize several exhibitions in Cortina, first provincial and then national.
In addition to being a great Art lover, Rimoldi was also the manager of the Hotel Corona of Cortina. There, over the years, he hosted various artists, including, for example, Giorgio De Chirico, who spent his Christmas vacations there, even composing a poem for the occasion.
Rimoldi's life was undoubtedly very full, if you want to learn more about him you could read the wikipedia page dedicated to him, but consider that it's in Italian.
Palaeontological Museum "Rinaldo Zardini"
The paleontological museum "Rinaldo Zardini" was founded in 1974 thanks to a donation by Rinaldo Zardini, who wanted to spread the geology and paleontology culture of the Ampezzo Dolomites to everyone.
It is one of the largest existing collections of fossils, over 20,000 specimens belonging to over 1000 different species. Inside the museum it's possible to see many finds of marine creatures that lived in these areas, before the continental drift made the Dolomites emerge from the water.
The fossils are perfectly preserved and, in most cases, you can see even the smallest details, such as the holes with which the sponges absorbed water, despite the fact that almost 250 million years have passed.
... It is one of the largest existing collections of fossils, over 20,000 specimens...
Scholars from all over the world come to visit this collection. Over the years it has been further expanded with the help of many enthusiasts, who have found new specimens, including fossils of plants.
Among the most significant materials on display, there are numerous specimens of Megalodon bivalves, organisms adapted to a tropical marine environment, such as the one that preceded the genesis of the Dolomites. A small space is also dedicated to the reconstruction of Zardini's personal study.
The collection is one of the most complete in Europe and also includes some specimens of amber millions of years old. Few know that Cortina is a very interesting area from the paleontological point of view.
Under the mountain group of the "Tofane" has been discovered the most ancient invertebrates preserved in amber in the world. They are over 230 million years old, almost 100 million years older than any other invertebrates preserved in the amber ever found globally. The amber has been called Ampezzoa Triassic, in honor of the Ampezzo valley.
This discovery was really very important for geologists around the world, it could be said that it changed history. Here you can read a scientific article, in english, that deepens the topic.
The Palaeontological Museum "Rinaldo Zardini" is, undoubtedly, a beautiful museum, especially for those who have children, because they can actually see the story of the world, and not read it in textbooks.
We sincerely recommend the visit of this museum to everyone, as it is objectively interesting, not only for a didactic purpose. For more information, here is the official website of the Palaeontological Museum.
We want to conclude this chapter with a few words about Rinaldo Zardini. He was born in Cortina in 1902 and has always been a great lover of photography.
His naturalistic activity began with the cataloguing of Ampezzo's biodiversity, the results of which can be seen in the first room of the museum.
In 1935, Rinaldo collected his first fossil and, since then, he continued to collect, study and catalogue various fossil finds, arriving at having one of the largest and most interesting collections in the world. A large part of Zardini's studies focused on the faunas of the Ladin era, one of the triassic epochs.
He approached the subject of fossils so well that his books have become university study texts. The most important work of Zardini was undoubtedly "Fossils of Cortina: atlas of Echinoderms" of 1973.
The contribution of Zardini in the world of fossils was so large that he was awarded with the degree "honoris causa" in natural sciences and was appointed affiliated researcher of the Smithsonian Institute of Washington.
If this topic interests you, we also invite you to read our article about the geological history of the Dolomites and their formation. You can click it below:
Ethnographic museum "Regole d'Ampezzo"
The Ethnographic museum "Regole d'Ampezzo" is an exhibition dedicated to the culture of Ampezzo and to the traditions. This cultural heritage has been preserved, over the centuries, thanks to the supervision of the territory by the "Regole d'Ampezzo".
The museum is housed in an historic Venetian-style sawmill, whose building has been completely renovated.
The museum is structured on three floors, each dedicated to a specific theme, but all concerning the history of Cortina and the "Regole d'Ampezzo".
It goes from life in the mountains, with in-depth studies of the various forestry and pastoral activities, to the ingenious solutions adopted to guarantee all the families a fair lifestyle.
... all concerning the history of Cortina and the "Regole d'Ampezzo"...
For centuries, and in part still today, life in Ampezzo was regulated by the Laudi, which is a set of rules that define the rights and duties of the families of Cortina. All of this was done, for example, to ensure that citizens received free wood for home repairs or for fire, ensuring equity of division and sustainability of wood collection.
In addition to testimonies of that lifestyle, you can also admire some of the local handicrafts, such as silver filigree or traditional clothes.
Among all the exhibits, there are two that most attracted our attention. The first is the Gilardoni Rifle, the world's first compressed air lethal weapon. It was really silent and didn't create smoke, so it was really useful. It was built by Bartolomeo Gilardoni, a watchmaker and blacksmith of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
The second is the reconstruction of the Castle of Botestagno, once a fundamental stronghold for the defense of Ampezzo and today present only as ruins. For those who would like to visit the Podestagno Fortress, there is a beautiful walk from Ra Stua to the ruins of the stronghold, we discuss this on the page below:
It's also possible to see many other objects and machinery, such as the original mechanism of the clock of the bell tower of Cortina, as well as other interesting instruments of life in Ampezzo, accompanied by photographs and very interesting descriptive cards.
Definitely, the Ethnographic Museum "Regole d'Ampezzo" is a must-see for anyone who is fascinated by life in the past, which was undoubtedly more challenging than ours, and by anyone who is curious about the Ampezzo traditions.
Those who want more information can visit the official website of the Ethnographic Museum, from which you can also access the Youtube channel of the museum, where some of the exhibits are described. It's in Italian, but subtitles translation should work since the speaker has a clear voice and speaks slowly.
Surely the three museums of the "Regole d'Ampezzo" are excellent alternatives to spend a few hours in Cortina d'Ampezzo, especially if the weather is not the best. They are also very educational places, especially for the new generations and for the youngsters who are forming their conscience and intellect.
Museums are a source of inspiration for everyone and we recommend visiting at least one every time you go on vacation in a new place.
We hope you liked this page on the three museums of the "Regole" of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
If you like our website and you'd like to thank us for the work done, you can give us a little help or a contribution by visiting the page ❤Support us.