The Val Germanasco is situated high in the Alps, some 70 km. south-west of Turin, on the border with France. The area has had a turbulent history and the religious unrest of past centuries is reflected in the presence of a small museum concerned with the Waldensian faith. The extraction of talc, or bianco delle Alpi, has been an intrinsic part of the local economy for more than two centuries, but for much of that time mining has been carried out by peasant families who have also gained their livings by raising crops and keeping animals.
An association concerned with the heritage of the region, the Scopriminiera, was set up in 1998, and within ten years had welcomed 230,000 visitors to the area. An ecomuseum was formally established in 2003 and now administers a wide-ranging programme for visitors, as well as enabling people who live in the valley to play a part in conserving their own heritage. The ecomuseum has opened up a total of 5 km. of underground workings for talc, principally at the Gianna and Paoloa mines. They can be explored, partly in trains, partly on foot, and an innovation in the interpretation of old mines is the establishment of a 2 km. cycling path through the Gianna mine.
The ecomuseum has organised four touring routes through the valley interpreting its industrial and geological heritage, and is responsible for a variety of educational programmes. It co-operates with conservation bodies in Briançon, on the French side of the Alps, in the organisation of a cross-border geological park.