architecture in the valley
beautiful countryside between the Musone and Esino valleys shows all its
richness through a careful agricultural activity and a continuous sequence
of rural houses scattered in the fields.
houses are linked to each other and to the fields by a dense road network,
which look like white ribbons in the green fields. Most of these houses
are still used as farms, while other houses have been restored and have
become prestigious places.
birth of the “rural house” can be traced back to the Middle
Ages, when following the decay of the Roman political and economic
establishment, invasions and upheavals had disrupted all productive
activities and farming in particular.
rural population went to live to the villages, the so-called fortified “castra”
or the hamlets surrounding the castles. People tried to protect themselves
from pillaging, attacks and devastations. In the 7th century
attacks decreased and the inhabitants started to reclaim land and to
colonize the territory, farming practices also resumed.
were generally created in high areas, to ensure defense. The so-called “casa-torre
(house-tower) was built within a “castrum” and acquired a new
identity thanks to an outer staircase, a porch and a loggia, which were
added to the original house to meet new housing needs.
fortified hamlets still remained isolated from the countryside, yet the
widespread desire for recovery led to the occupation of rural areas which
were close to towns. The first rural buildings were built, and the rural
landscape that had been dominated by the feudal castle finally changed.
New types of rural houses were built.
Renaissance had began, and the rural house had to have “…a large
and bright kitchen, with an oven, a fireplace, a well and a sink. In
addition to the kitchen another room must be there, to keep the bread
case, the salted meat and lards. A large hut is also needed, where farmers
can keep their carts, sledges, ploughs, hay containers and a dovecot…”
the 19th century the building principles of a typical farmhouse
became more precise “one side of it had to have a large kitchen with
the fireplace in the middle and with bedrooms surrounding it, on the other
side rooms ad warehouses were placed, to keep rural tools. Farming
produce, granary, then the stables had to be located at the back of the
house, with the porches to keep the carts…” The increase in rural
population led to the creation of new rural areas on the hills and even on
the mountains, and the share cropping system allowed for the intensive
exploitation of land and mixed crops. The farmhouses were equipped with
the necessary rooms to process agricultural produce, thus they had a
cellar, a granary, a stable, a outhouse, a barn, a pigsty and a drying
the second half of the 20th century the agricultural activity
grew and the economic situation improved, the farmhouses were equipped
with modern services (such as electrical and sewer systems, water supply
rural houses constitute a valuable heritage, in that they bear witness to
the laborious life of the past. Their fascination is further increased by
their being perfectly integrated in the environment.
typological variety ranges from the “italic type” to the
“house on a slope” and the “tower” house.
rural house of “italic type” is a two-storey brickwork
building, with a rectangular plant and a two-slope roof. In addition it
has an outer staircase and an interior staircase, allowing for the use of
the granary. The lodge is incorporated to the house and has a stable,
below the bedrooms, and the outhouse. The other rooms are on the side of
the house. It is usually not whitewashed and the roof is covered with bent
tiles, so that rain water can be collected and then diverted to a
reservoir. This is the most common type of house for a settlement on the
hills or on the plain.
the “house on a slope” the ground floor is used as a cellar,
outhouse or stable, on the front side the house has a kitchen and
bedrooms. The staircase is located indoor. The location of the lodge and
the dwelling storey on different levels is due to morphologic needs. This
house generally has two entrances, one for the lodge and one for the
house. This type of house has a barn, a stable or a sheepcot on one side.
The outhouse is narrowed, because it no longer has to host the huge cart,
but a smaller sledge. The building techniques are now poorer and the
houses are enlarged and enriched with embellishments, giving rise to
asymmetrical and complex shapes.
most ancient type of rural house is the “house-tower”, or “dovecot”,
which is composed by the owner’s house and a lodge. The tower
“absorbed” in the new structures has a roof with 3 or 4 slopes and the
storeys are connected to a single room by an inner staircase.
building materials for rural houses may vary and are generally linked to
the areas where houses are built. In case of houses located on high hills,
these are built using the stone that is normally utilized to built
architraves, arches and pillars. Brickwork is typical of houses built in
clayey or flat areas, where stone was difficult to find and clay was used
instead. Clay was fired and then became a suitable material for rural
architecture. Rural houses built using mixed materials are also common
(brick and stone).
In the 19th century rural houses in the Esino valley also
hosted a complementary activity to farming, namely silk breeding, which
processed products to be sold. A particular type of house was created,
which had an inner staircase and in which the kitchen and the bedrooms
were located above the lodge. A large and airy room, equipped with stoves
and fireplaces, was located in the elevation of the house, and was used to
keep the silkworms.
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