Friday, October 31, 2014

Old Rock Structures

The Italian speaking canton of Switzerland is called Ticino.
In areas there are plentiful rocks, boulders, outcrops, quarries on the south side of the Alp slope valleys.  People used the plentiful local rock to build walls, and they also used the cavities in and around rocks in ingenious ways.

Pictures below are from the Val Maggia (and its offshoot Val Bavona) but there are structures like this in other Ticinese valleys as well (Val Leventina, e.g.)

 Above is a shed, using a leaning boulder as partial wall and roof.
Below is a pen, with a wall of stones built up under the cliff.
Both were for goats, as cows could not navigate the steep and rocky terrain.

The steps seen below right lead up to a 'hanging garden.'
When torrential floods in the 1500's washed away fields and crops, growing areas were created on the tops of large boulders, safe from being washed away.

 While goat pens and hanging gardens were from Val Bavona, the area around Cevio in Val Maggiore had hundreds of storage and wine cellars built into and under giant rocks.  Photo above shows a reconstructed storage shed under a boulder, with steps leading up to dozens of other 'caves.'  Most had tables and chairs built out of stone as well, so that people could have a safe place to enjoy their wines and other stored products.  These date from the last 300 years.

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