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The provinces of Turin and Trento, together with the Arealpina association, have launched the first Video Archive of Mountain Crafts, “VAMM” in its Italian acronym. The aims of the archive are to collect, file and disseminate videotaped material – already existing or recorded specially – documenting the range of crafts and trades in mountain regions. Says Valter Giuliano, the Turin Provincial Council member in charge of the culture department, “The project aims to prevent traditional craft techniques being lost merely because they aren’t technologically advanced, economically competitive or in line with the prevailing culture. The mountain world is in many ways a fragile one; the variety and originality of its culture are endangered by the dominant cultural patterns of the lowlands, and towns in particular”.

Over the last few decades, very many mountain areas have experienced processes of abandonment and depopulation, a phenomenon especially marked in the south-western Alps. This is due to the marginalisation of these areas as a result of the flourishing economies of the valley floor and the cities of the plain. Some decided to resist this trend, and in places where the mountains had not become mere playgrounds for tourists, small groups of people gritted their teeth and through the years of mass manufacture and distribution, carried on their traditional ways of life and production. This valuable commitment to saving and preserving the old crafts is now, ironically, immensely attractive to politically-correct city-dwellers looking for alternative outings in a growing movement towards an environmentally-friendly tourism of discovery.

Now the promoters of the VAMM project are working on a campaign to widen participation, and are trying to involve other provinces and mountain areas in the Alps, the Apennines and beyond our borders. This “pan-mountain” vision sees the project in European terms, and the ultimate goal is that of preserving and fostering a Europe-wide mountain culture.

The website of the Province of Turin contains more information on the fledgling video archive of mountain crafts.