Fiavè: Museo delle Palafitte (Pile-dwellings museum)

I recently visited the Museum of Fiavè, in Trentino, which is a pile-dwelling site inscribed in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list. Though a rather small museum, it is definitely worth a visit: opened in April 2012, it utilises a lot of engaging designs solutions. The ground floor, focusing on the glaciation period, the prehistory of the area, and the story of the discovery, functions well as an introduction to the focus on the pile-dwellings settlement, discovered in 1969 by Renato Perini. An earlier settlment, dating to the Neolithic age on the lake shores, left space to an expanded pile-dwellings village, which in the Bronze age.

DSC_5827The first floor introduces to the site and explains how it has been studied. A lot of interactives, such as that in the image on the left, prompt visitors (which are mostly school groups and families) to ‘discover the discoveries’ by opening windows or sliding panels, while also principles of stratigraphy are explained through reconstructions and panels. A second room displays many of the objects found on site: vases, various tools, and materials locate the settlement of Fiavè-Carera within a wider network of commercial relationships (amber and copper were imported through the Alps) and cultural influences.


The second floor is designed as an itinerary throughout the pile-dwellings settlement: notice the piles emerging from the lake, while we walk on the platform near this (rather spectral) woman preparing a vase. Here, different aspects of the life in the Bronze age village are explored: food, clothes, hunting, etc.

Some of the most remarkable and famous findings from the site are indeed exhibited here, as this wonderfully woven helmet.


On this floor, there are also few dioramas showing the settlements, and a great case illustrating the different phases from the Neolithic until the Late Bronze, with the different positions of the settlement in relation to the lake.



After having visited the museum, we decided naturally to visit also the site, from the village of Fiavè, a short walk across the fields leads to it.

DSC_5903Where once the was the Lake Carera, there is now a moss which has been partially excavated revealing the rich material culture of this village, which is relatively close to the second main pile-dwellings site of Ledro, with which it shares indeed the UNESCO acknowledgement.

The pile-dwellings as they look now.

Nearby, a viewing platform allows glimpsing both the prehistoric settlement and the modern Fiavè in the background.


Finally, for everyone who follows me on Twitter and has been wondering what is my header image: mystery solved! Outside the museum a modern sculpture celebrates the settlements with the ‘lake’ surface reflecting the sun directly on the little houses, a lovely tribute to the first community living in this area.


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