Italy, in collaboration with Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland, obtained in 2018 the UNESCO recognition in the Intangible Heritage of Humanity for the art of dry stone walling, an international cultural work of great importance.
How do You Build Dry Stone Wall?
The construction technique of dry stone walls consists of creating vertical support structures by arranging local stones one on top of the other, without any binder. This practical knowledge is passed down in rural communities and has deep roots. There may not be a manual on how to make these walls, but there is a legendary tradition that from father to son since the dawn of time, those who need to know how to do it have been told by an elder.
What is the Purpose of Dry Stone Wall?
Dry stone wall structures are used as shelters for agriculture or livestock breeding. They testified the methods used from prehistoric times to the present day to organize life and working environments, optimizing human and natural resources, when the countryside was more populated and land was the only element of sustenance.
At that time, farmers were ingenious enough to cultivate even the steepest terrain. Through the construction of dry-stone walls and consequently, of various terraces, it was possible to make many of the Italian Tuscan countryside cultivable in order to give it that particular aspect that distinguishes it, as in Chianti and Valdarno.
These constructions demonstrate the harmonious relationship between man and nature (so important in Tuscany, as we already observed in the Leopoldine dedicated article) and at the same time play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods, and avalanches, but also in combating soil erosion and desertification.