How to get there
The Regional Museum of Natural Sciences is in Saint-Pierre Castle, in the town of
the same name, located 8km north of Aosta, heading towards Courmayeur.
To reach Saint-Pierre:
- from the A5 motorway: exit at the turning for Aosta-Ovest and go towards
Saint-Pierre along the SS26 road for about 3 kilometres
- coming from Aosta: go through the village of Sarre along the SS26 road, heading
towards Courmayeur until you can see the castle on the right
- coming from Courmayeur: go through the village of Villeneuve. The castle will be
on the left.
From whatever direction you arrive, it is impossible to not see the castle which
stands unmistakeable on a promontory overlooking the town.
At the foot of the castle there is a car park, and the entrance is reached on foot
along a short ramp. At about 200 metres from the entrance there is a large parking
area for coaches (Piazzale Cofruits).
At the moment, Saint-Pierre Castle is closed to the public while major restoration
and conservation work is being carried out for the safety of an architectural monument.
Also for the Regional Museum of Natural Sciences within the castle, the moment has come
to renew by completely redeveloping the layout.
All the collections shown in the Museum (some 22,000 natural exhibits, a scientific
library containing 3,000 books, in addition to the furniture) have been packed and taken
elsewhere until the works are completed.
The work is in full swing, so the ‘appointment’ is postponed until the opening of the
Regional Museum of Natural Sciences
Loc. Tache - Castello di Saint-Pierre
11010 Saint Pierre (AO) - Italy
Natural-scientific research center of the Marais
Localité Chez Borgne – 11015 La Salle (AO) - Italy
Telephone +39 0165 1845115 - fax +39 0165 1845116
Email PEC: firstname.lastname@example.org
The research center is closed to public.
Together with the many other castles, towers and fortified buildings in the Region, Saint-Pierre
Castle is an important example of the Valle d’Aosta’s feudal past.
The medieval castles, initially built as a place for refuge, over the years became sumptuous homes to
powerful families, the epicentres of both public and private life, the setting for pages and pages of the
social history of the period.
Saint-Pierre Castle, whose name derives from its original owners, the De Sancto Petro, is of very ancient
origin, at least the 12th century since there is a reference to it in a document dated 1191.
The original building consisted of two distinct parts, the fortified house and the tower, which were only
later joined by the addition of other structures for civil and military use, depending on the needs and the
possibilities of the various successions of owners.
Over the centuries, the castle belonged to several lordships. From the lords of Quart, in 1321 another
portion passed into the hands of the Duke of Savoia, a co-lordship that in 1405 also extended to the Challant
family. The Roncas, who acquired the entire property in the early 1600s, enlarged the complex and
magnificently furnished its interiors.
In the subsequent changes of ownership, the castle became neglected, and only 1873 did the last owner,
Baron Emanuele Bollati, make significant changes with the help of the architect Camillo Boggio.
In line with the period’s style of transformational restoration, he renewed the castle according to a
personal vision, midway between the Romantic and the Decadent, perhaps inspired by the Bavarian castles.
He was responsible for the addition of the four round towers at the corners whose purpose was purely
decorative, setting Saint-Pierre Castle apart in the architectural vernacular of medieval Valle d’Aosta.
Inside, the castle consists of nine rooms that still retain the typical medieval structure. Of
particular interest are the partly underground stables and what is known as the “throne room” full of
period furniture, with a large stone fireplace on which is painted the coat of arms of Saint-Pierre.
Today the Saint-Pierre Castle is owned by the Municipality.
History of the Museum
The Regional Museum of Natural Sciences of the Valle d’Aosta was inaugurated
and opened to the public on 1 June 1985, but its history began long before when, in 1905, the
Société de la Flore Valdôtaine, founded in 1858 by the Canons Georges Carrel and Edouard Bérard
who created a private museum in order to study and illustrate the natural sciences and physical
geography of the Valle d'Aosta.
The Société initially operated through the encouragement of Canon P. L. Vescoz, supporter and
first curator of the museum, assisted by other naturalists such as Abbot J. Henry, president
of the scientific society for some forty years, and the botanist L. Vaccari. Chronicles of the
time speak of a not very large exhibition, but appreciated by both visitors and the press.
Over the years, the Museum was located in various places. In 1934, during the Fascist regime,
since the Société de la Flore Valdôtaine did not have the wherewithal to rent new rooms, it was
forced to hand over its collections to the Aosta Alpine Military School which took charge of
them and kept them for almost forty years in the Castle of Duca degli Abruzzi.
In 1971, a group of naturalists and devotees of the Société de la Flore Valdôtaine decided to
retrieve the collections and rebuild the Museum. The inauguration took place on 2 June 1975
at the former Chapel of Saint-Laurent, opposite the Collegiate Church of Sant’Orso in the centre
of Aosta. After just two seasons, the Museum was once again forced to move due to the opening
of archaeological excavations beneath the chapel.
In 1977, the Municipality of Saint-Pierre offered space within the Castle it owned. It was in
this historic building that the Museum found a worthy venue, and which will be once again housing
it in the new, reorganised rooms once the works for restoring and conserving the Castle have
The new Museum
The path leading to the creation of the new Museum began in 2008 when the Castle and Museum were closed to
the public to enable major restoration and conservation work to be carried out for the safety of this historic
building and to refurbish its interiors for the museum.
The Regional Administration of the Valle d’Aosta has played its part by earmarking significant funding for
this project, with the dual aim of enhancing the architectural heritage and renewing the museum’s display.
The combination of Castle and Museum is the cornerstone on which the new museum project rests, introducing
visitors to the architecturally historic building and to the science and nature collection, applying an
approach in line with the very latest trends in museum displays and functions. The aim is to create a
tour route that engages the public, placing emphasis on exciting interactive systems while conveying the
contents and messages with due scientific rigour.
The new museum will be based on interactivity, experience and technology to bring out the best in the
collections and to explain to different categories of public the natural history of the Valle d’Aosta,
its biological and environmental wealth even compared to other areas in the Alps.
Following a Europe-wide call for bids, posted in August 2010, which was answered by 27 companies from all
over Italy, the work was awarded to the Consorzio Cooperative Costruzioni - CCC Società Cooperativa di
Bologna for a total of €2,650,000. On 23 August 2011, the contract for awarding the works was signed,
which also includes consolidating the structure, building two lifts and renewing the basic systems. The
works for this first functional part began on 2 September 2011 and will be completed in 540 consecutive
On 27 October 2011, at the Council Hall of the Municipality of Saint-Pierre, the Department of Agriculture
and Natural Resources of the Valle d’Aosta, the Municipality of Saint-Pierre and the Regional Museum of
Natural Sciences of Valle d’Aosta presented to the public the project to restore the Castle. During the
evening, attended by Regional Councillor Giuseppe Isabellon, the Mayor of Saint-Pierre Daniela Lale Demoz,
the Chairman of the Museum Rosanna Piervittori and, for the design team, Ing. Adriano Venturini, there was
shown the programme for the historic monument’s refurbishment and the future museum layout.