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Ornithological Museum “Silvio Bambini”

Ingresso Museo

The Seat and the Collection

The history of the ornithological Museum of Pietralunga starts in 1969, when Silvio Bambini had a pheasant, received by a friend, embalmed. After a few years a collection was created that would soon become a true exhibition of the fauna in Umbria. Silvio Bambini, willing to preserve samples of local game, which was in danger of extinction, in a short time was able to retrieve several specimens of different wild species thanks to the collaboration of many hunters in the Upper Tiber Valley. Most of these species are now protected from the current hunting legislation.
Sivio Bambini bought most of the species collected and had them embalmed. He also made the glass cases used for their preservation and exhibition. At the beginning of 1976, the collection grew to such an extent that the curator decided to exhibit the more than 230 specimens to the public for the first time in
Via Albizzini in Città di Castello. In January 1978 the same municipality of Città di Castello, after recognising the natural value of the collection, offered the use of two small rooms in the prestigious Museum Villa Cappelletti, an important neoclassical building housing a collection of iron models of moving trains to scale 1:20 dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. During the first half of the eighties Silvio Bambini continued to increase its collection in the hope of being able to set up a real ornithological Museum. The spaces of the Museum Villa Cappelletti soon became too small to exhibit new specimens and the opening times to the public were too limited; hence the idea to sell the collection to those who would ensure the preservation and the exhibition of the collection in suitable areas and would also use it for environmental educational activities.

In 1989 the Mountain Community of the Upper Tiber Valley won the purchase of the ornithological collection and preservation as witness of the Umbrian faunal heritage. Nowadays the collection is housed in the barracks that had been seat of the Foresters in Pietralunga, it has been recently renovated with funds from the region of Umbria and has become seat of the naturalistic ornithological Museum ”Silvio Bambini”. The Museum is located inside the naturalistic oasis of Candeleto, characterized by extensive forests of conifers and oaks. Here the vegetation on the steep hills is partly spontaneous and was partly planted by men in the years between 1935 and 1938 in an attempt to cover an area where the Austrian black pine had remained uncultivated. The area presents pastures alternating with cultivated fields, offering a suitable habitat for many species of animals.

The Ornithological Collection

Currently the Bambini exhibition consists of about 320 specimens, 280 birds and 40 mammals. It represents almost completely the ornithological heritage of the Umbrian Appenines.
During the first period (1969-1978) mainly local species typical of rural, fluvial, marshy and forestal eco-systems had become part of the collection. Species from the towns in the Upper Tiber Valley and some typical ones in the Umbria-Marche Apennines, from the mountain passes of Bocca Trabaria and Bocca Serriola, were also part of the first collecting period. Later on (1980-1985) the total number of the species collection increased by acquiring specimens from more distant areas, in particular from marine environments, from the Alps and from Eastern and Northern Europe.

Some of the specimens collected locally, came also from distant regions probably due to the negative influence of the weather during their long migratory routes. The finding of an Umbrian or wavy Chlamydotis, occurred accidentaly in Italy and currently living in North Africa and in Asia, has been very important for the collection.

The Museum houses also bird species that are rare in Central Italy such as the pink flamingo, living only in Sardinia and it houses species so called “anomalous” such as the white blackbird. The latter represents a typical example of albinism, lacking the natural colour of its feathers being white in some parts of the body or throughout the whole of it.
The latter represents a typical example of albinism, or the lack of natural coloration of the feathers due to which these are white only in parts or even all over the body. The Museum houses many birds presenting a marked sexual seasonal or juvenile dimorphism, that is different forms for the same species according to the sex, the season or the age of the specimen. Two or more specimens with diverse plumage represent some of these species: the quattrocchi (goldeneye), the sparrowhawk, the pheasant, the black-tailed godwit and the fighter.
Other bird species in the collection are those considered rare today, such as the golden eagle, the eagle owl or the European roller.

As to the specimens belonging to mammals, the collection consists of 40 of them; the most important are a deer and a wolf, along with the rate and the hedgehog typical of the Central Apennine chain.

The collection Silvio Bambini is important for several reasons: from a scientific point of view it represents an almost complete exhibition of birds and mammals from Umbria and is an essential reference source for the knowledge and study of the fauna in the Central Apennines; from the point of view of environmental education the Museum, with its collection, is an important point of reference to develop activities aiming at preserving and raising awareness towards environmental issues promoted by the Mountain Community and the State forestry Guard.

The latter, which currently runs the Museum, puts the staff on duty at the Command Station in Candeleto at the service of visitors who want to take guided tours to the Museum and to the naturalistic oasis.

The ornithological Museum is open every morning from Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 1:30 and on Saturdays from 7:30 at 11:30.