Of Cheese and Ecomuseums: Food as Cultural Heritage in the Northern Italian Alps

Cristina Grasseni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In Italy, the concept of cultural heritage is increasingly being applied to local food in the name of its “typicity”. The notion of a food being “typical” is inextricably tied to that of its being local, namely rooted in a specific territory with its biological and botanical peculiarity. Typical foods are not just “traditional” but are bearers of the historical know-how that would flourish in that particular locality. Similarly to the idea of “terroir”, the notion of typicity thrives in connection with the capacity of trade networks and supply channels to guarantee and protect geographical indications and denominations of origin.
This paper offers two examples of how the protection of food as cultural heritage may not be disjoint from a degree of “invention” (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) or even “reinvention” (Grasseni 2007). In particular, I shall highlight the link between typical products and the food industry as well as the role played by regional and national institutions in supporting the concept of food “typicity” and its value as a form of cultural heritage and territorial patrimony.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEdible Identities
Subtitle of host publicationFood as Cultural Heritage
EditorsRonda Brulotte, Michael Di Giovine
Place of PublicationDorchester UK
PublisherAshgate Publishing Limited
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781409442639
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Heritage
  • Food
  • Italy
  • Ecomuseums


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