“…The environmental context of the valley, there were the touristic expansion of the last decades did not bring substantial changes, is nonetheless characterised by elements that carry the human imprint of the previous Centuries. The most visible are the dry stone walls, which testimony the struggles of the local inhabitants, who shaped the hard and savage soil with fatigue and determination, transforming hills in terraces where farming was possible. Dry stone walls (“maxe” in the local dialect) are made of stones wisely piled on top of each other without any mortar to bind
them together. Interlocking stones and slivers secure their stability. Technical evaluations reveal the remarkable structural characteristics of such walls and the high skills of their builders whose technique has been passed over for Centuries. An example of such knowledge is inclination, average in the small walls and progressively accentuated at the base of the high ones. Disposition varies as well: stones are arranged sideways close to river banks, in order to provide better resistance to water currents. The back structure of the dry stone walls is also filled with slivers and other draining materials to favour the discharge of rain water. The most astonishing feature of dry stone walls and the real measure of the commitment of inhabitants into building and preserving them is however their overall extension: prudent estimations state that 1.200 kilometers of dry stone walls only can be found in this valley only.

“…the technique of the dry stone has been correctly employed also in local rural constructions of more modest dimensions, such as stables and small storages. On the other hand, for more important buildings and houses, the best stones were employed to create the facades while the remaining ones were used for interiors. For such buildings, soil has been used as mortar and filling for interstices. Mortar was instead employed to secure the external joints. Such technique was able to concile the necessity of low-cost construction with a warranty of solidity and duration.

“…for the same reasons the flooring of rural streets and hamlets’ alleys is roughly paved with stone slivers, way less elegant than the churchyards’ cobblestones made of round river-stones, and way less comfortable than towns’ flooring. Such rough solution was not only of cheaper realisation, but it was more useful to the employment of pack animals, which were the sole means of carrying and transport in the area. This flooring resisted heavy rain and was often employed to discharge and collect of water…”

Sources:

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