Slate ecomuseum and Isolona quarry in Orero
Comune di Orero: Via Isolona, 11 - 16040 Orero (GE)
Telefono: 0185 35 49 88
Fax: 0185 35 4 993

A valley that creeps into hinterland, that runs parallel to the coast, among mountains and sanctuaries. A land of woods and silent villages, of mines and hard work, a land emptied by emigration.
Val Fontanabuona spreads along the provincial road which, from the nearby sea, leads to Lumarzo in the deep hinterland. Among the many municipalities, often scattered and consisting of little hamlets, is Orero where the Isolona slate quarry is located.
Slate is the black gold of Fontanabuona, a valley devoured by dozens of cracks where this stone was, and still is, extracted. It is used to make blackboards, billiard tables (the surface under the green cloth is slate), artisan objects, and as building material for the roofs of the houses in this area and in many other places in Liguria.
The Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Axis 4 of the Por Fesr 2007-2013) will restore the Ecomuseum of the Isolona quarry in Orero. It is a reality that already exists but which cannot be used at the moment, because it needs to be redeveloped, made safe and the internal and external routes need to be prepared. It is a set of underground caves carved into the rock which make it possible to directly live the daily reality and strain of this exhausting job.

The museum is currently closed.

A little bit of history

The Isolona quarry, which had a laboratory for cutting slate blocks, was active between 1870 and 1960. It is one of the many Fontanabuona mines from which this material was extracted, with others appearing in the areas closer to the coast (Lavagna, Cogorno). In this valley, however, the slate is more abundant and of superior quality. The use of this stone in Liguria goes back to long ago: the Necropolis of Chiavari, dating back to the 8th – 7th century B.C. contains megalithic tombs made from this dark stone.

The intervention

The intervention aims at recovering the Ecomuseum in the ex-quarry of Isolona. It is in quite a good state of preservation, especially the outer part (the laboratory), but it needs to be made safe in order to be completely usable.
It is an operation aimed at strengthening the appeal of the territory by developing the resources, in order to trigger a virtuous circle from employment and touristic points of view, and more in particular from a scholastic point of view.

Work will be carried out to prepare trails (both indoor and outdoor) and make them safe with panels, handrail, sound and video systems, forms. The electrical system and lift will be renovated, together with the connected structures, which will also be strengthened. In addition to this, the exhibition section and the gadget and object sales area, the ticket office, the reception point and the refreshment area will be prepared.

Besides the recovery of areas and trails (both the lower and the upper cave), the open areas will be prepared, informative and teaching signals (even interactive) will be installed together with plants and equipment for stage lighting , and guides, leaflets, brochures, posters and bills will be made.

A promotional campaign and marketing studies will be carried out to relaunch the structure.
The ancient productive structure, built at the beginning of the 1900s will then be recovered, with the creation of a teaching trail that transmits the reality of mining thanks to visual and sound imprints, stage reconstructions with human shapes.
The inside trail will be arranged to provide the visitor with information, but especially to arouse emotions using visual and sound elements, with historical images projected onto the stone.


Going up the Scoglina mountain pass from the village of Favale di Malvaro, we find ourselves directly in the Aveto area, the widest and greenest valley in Tigullio. The main centre of the area is Santo Stefano, a charming mountain resort (at a height of 1000 metres) that was awarded the Bandiera arancione (orange flag) by the Italian Touring Club. The resort is immersed in woods, and is a starting point for trails and paths that lie deep in the Aveto regional park.

During the winter, the village turns into the main ski resort of Eastern Liguria, attracting tourists not only from the coast but also from Lombardy and Emilia, a region with which the municipality borders.

Agriculture and breeding are very important for the local economy, in addition to the production of cheese and dairy products in nearby Rezzoaglio.


Fontanabuona is a land of high emigration, especially towards the USA and South America.

A woman called Natalina Garaventa left Rossi, Lumarzo, the last municipality in the valley lying behind Genoa, to go to the States. In 1912 she met another emigrant from Sicily, whose name was Antonio. In 1915 their only child Frank was born, and his surname was Sinatra.

On the contrary, the parents of Amadeo Peter Giannini left Favale in Malvaro: Amadeo was an American banker who founded the Bank of America, while Angelo Noce, the organizer of the first Columbus Day held in Colorado in 1907, left from Coreglia Ligure.

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