Natural History Museum
of Alpago

The Natural History Museum is characterized by a vast collection, assembled over time and with passion through the efforts of Ivan Fossa, a local amateur naturalist, along with a group of local experts. The primary strengths of the museum are its collections of animals and plants, featuring a broad range of species of the local area. These include substantial botanical and mycological collections, and a zoological collection which well represents the local zoology and vertebrate systematics of the Province of Belluno.
The museum is noteworthy for the richness of its natural history collections and for the connection between specimens on display and the geographical area of Alpago, and of the Province of Belluno, including several noteworthy fossils found in the local area, and a specimen of the sanpieròl (Leuciscus lapacinus) in the zoological collection, an increasingly rare fish found exclusively in the nearby Lago di Santa Croce.
Aspects of local geology and geomorphology are presented on the first floor, including unique processes of fossilization, alongside the museum’s botanical and zoological collections.

The museum’s exhibits are organized over three floors. A single large room on the first floor is dedicated to zoology, with specimens of vertebrates locally present in the Province of Belluno, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The collection extends into the corridor with an exhibit on invertebrates, including insects, arachnids, butterflies and moths, and molluscs. Every specimen for each species is identified with a descriptive label illustrating its local distribution, and, if available, the name of the species in the local dialect. Of particular value among the specimens is the Sampierolo (Leuciscus lapacinus), in dialect sanpieròl, a rare fish which is endemic to Lago di Santa Croce in Alpago.
Three rooms are dedicated to the subjects of geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and human anatomy. Minerals on display have been donated by collectors, and part of the collection corresponds to minerals found locally. Local geology is illustrated in a three-dimensional relief map of the province of Belluno and bordering areas. Mineral deposits and mines of the province have been labeled on the map. Geological maps, diagrams, and rock samples are used to illustrate natural phenomena such as landslides which are common in the province and are made highly visible through the history of major events including the disaster of Vajont, and nearby Tessina landslip. Other geomorphological particularities such as the karst landscape of Alpago which includs the doline (sink-holes) of Cansiglio also receive attention in this section.
Dioramas and panels are used to illustrate the evolution of the local landscape, including the development of volcanoes, the birth and metamorphosis of different types of rocks, and a scale model showing hypothetical consequences of earthquakes. One diorama is dedicated to orogenic processes responsible for raising sedimentary layers from the ocean floor to the mountain summits found locally, and presents important marine fossils found locally, such as shark teeth and a mandible of an Odontoceti (a relative of the modern dolphin) found near the road leading to Chies-Lamosano. Another display explains fossilized traces created by movement of sea urchins on the ancient seafloor, and fossilized traces left behind through the construction of boroughs by date mussels (Lithophaga lithophaga) which were found locally in the area of the Tesa-Puos creek. Of particular educational significance are the dioramas on the top floor dedicated to prehistoric hunters, to cervids, alpine environments, hibernation, and wetland environments, in particular the wetlands of Lago di Santa Croce. Also on the top floor, is a collection of 1:1 plaster models of mushrooms, faithfully created by the local naturalist Ivan Fossa, and a xylotheque (a collection of different types of wood) selected to best visualize the characteristics of various woody species (vein, colour, porosity). Ninety samples of trees and woody species of the Province of Belluno are included in the collection accompanied by scientific, common, and dialect names. Samples are organized so as to facilitate comprehension of uses and silvicultural aspects of forestry.
The botanical exhibit includes illustrations of the evolution of plants found in the region, with around forty photographs of medicinal and poisonous plants. The exhibit concludes with the systematics of algae, lichens, mosses, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms.

The Tessina landslip and the “drainage tunnel”

Duration: 2 h
Location/map: The itinerary begins from the piazza of the town of Funés and proceeds in a loop around the accumulated debris of the landslip (see map).

Description of itinerary: The itinerary circumnavigates the debris of the Tessina landslip, showing critical points of interest useful for building a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of the landslip and the technical interventions carried out thus far for the protection of towns and human populations at risk from the slide. The first temporal phase of the landslip began in the fall of 1960. More recently in the spring of 1992, the landslip extended rapidly down-hill toward the town of Lamosano, and debris accumulated in the vicinity of Funés, where a containing wall was constructed to protect the settlement. The landslip is still in constant movement, but debris moves at a variable rate. In order to diminish the amount of water infiltration into the material, and thus further harmful movement of the slide, a drainage tunnel was excavated in natural rock on the right-hand flank of the valley of Venal di Funés, at the head of the slip. The tunnel was completed in 1997 and is 1.2km in length. Along the route from Funés to Pedol, looking up-hill, visitors can see the head of the landslip in an intensely fractured and folded flysch formation.

Season recommended: April-November

Natural History Museum of Alpago



  • La Frana del Tessina: Laboratorio Naturale per la Ricerca Applicata alla Protezione del Territorio. A cura di Ester Cason Angelini. Fondazione Giovanni Angelini e Fondazione Cariverona, 2011.
  • Guida naturalistica: Monografie. Itinerari per Conoscere ed Imparare: Dal Museo al Territorio dell’Alpago. A cura della Comunità Montana dell’Alpago.
  • La frana di Pra e Lagunàz: analisi del rischio geologico. Atti del convegno: Il rischio geologico e idraulico in Agordino, Agordo, sala congressi don Tamis, 7 giugno 2008. Agordo: Castaldi, 2009.
  • Geologia delle valli Vaiont e Gallina: Dolomiti orientali. M. Riva et al. Ferrara: Università degli studi, 1990.