The Museo Laboratorio dell’Appennino Umbro “Sotto-Sopra” is located in the city center of Polino, inside the fortress.
The small medieval burgh, located in the southern part of Umbria, stands majestically between Monte Petano and Monte Pelosa at the border with Rieti province.
The Rocca di Polino fortress was built, in the 12th century, by the Polini family.
Of the original defensive system made of a double wall there remains only a polygonal structure enriched by two groups of cylindrically shaped and diametrically opposed towers.
The Museum-Laboratory offers the opportunity to better understand the evolutionary history of the Umbrian Apennines through scale models and other multimedia systems.
It is advisable to extend the visit to the small medieval village and the surrounding country: by going outside the village it is possible to admire the vast panorama to the south-east, towards Greccio, the lake of Piediluco, Rieti and Leonessa, to the north-east towards Monteleone of Spoleto, and to the north towards the Salto del Ciedo with the magnificent mountains of Monte Aspra and Monte Coscerno. It is possible to see almost the entire Valnerina with a glance.
The visit to the Museum-Laboratory in Polino is a journey to discover what is meant by “Below” ground—in Italian Sotto—i.e. the geologic conformation of the territory, and what is meant by “Above” ground—in Italian Sopra—i.e. the flora and fauna and the Umbrian Apennines landscape. This journey is also reflected in the Museum display, whose two floors host respectively the themes connected to Geology/Paleontology and to Natural Sciences.
Instead, a series of themes related to the above—but that also possess their own autonomy—are housed on the first floor of Palazzo Castelli, where together with the reception and the bookshop, a huge aerial picture of the area and its scale model—a topographical plan—indicating the levels of the contour, visitors can orient themselves and immediately get to know the structure of what is a real and true Scientific Park.
This palace also houses the Didactic Laboratory for the Study and Classification of Ammonites.
At a short distance from the burgh of Polino, a little stone quarry extends the museum experience with a practical activity. The museum was recently expanded and an info-point—called “A Window on the Nera River”—has been opened.
With the assistance of specialized personnel, visitors are trained to look for and extract fossil ammonites from the rock, which are later separated from their rock-matrix by using instruments that are analogous to the ones used by paleontologists.