From TKWB - Traditional Knowledge World Bank
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Local name: Naples, Amalfi Coast, Ischia
Site: Naples, Amalfi Coast, Ischia


Click the globe to see the techinique on Google Map

Continent: Europe
Country: Italy
Site: Phlegraean Fields, Amalfi Coast, Island of Ischia, Sorrento Peninsula, and Island of Capri
Lat: 40.73
Long: 13.94

Description of the local variant of the technique

In the region of Campania of the Gulf of Naples (including the Phlegraean Fields, Ischia, the Sorrento Peninsula, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast), the terracing system is the principle instrument of organization of the territory. In the zone of the Phlegraean Fields, due to a strong anthropization and a semi-flat orography, the presence of terracing is less evident than elsewhere. They are however recognizable on the inside of important archeological spaces along the slopes of volcanoes like the area of the Astroni crater. The area was most likely the center of transposition and of the diffusion of techniques (for example in the use of dry stone or stone bonded by mortar). In the Amalfi Coast the landscape is organized like a Mediterranean garden made up of little cultivated plots of land, systems of collecting and distributing water and constructed pavilions. The houses follow the trend of cultivated terraces: they have as a base the terrace itself, the access ladders are built according to the lines of water, the terraces provided with a hanging garden formed by the ground floor above. The construction techniques of the sustaining masonry are made up of dry wall which in cases of higher elevation require the use of mortar in the base. On the upper edge of the dry wall there may be a curb called “lacerto” or “cottimo” which has the function of compacting the structure of the wall and of protecting it from the above part exposed to deterioration. The citrus groves are protected from the cold by a cage formed by three poles of chestnut wood 4 to 5 meters high, connected at the top to form the frame of a regular pyramid. This structure is maintained for 3 to 4 years, after which a definitive wooden pergola structure is produced. On the Island of Ischia, the terracing is present mostly in the area of Forio, and they are designed for the cultivation of vines. The stone used in the dry walls is volcanic stone and has the typical greenish color (“paracine”). The stone blocks are not extracted from a quarry but recovered on site, from which their irregular form derives. The stones are completely assembled dry, without the use of mortar. The containment walls do not exceed 2 to 2.5 meters in height and do not emerge ever from the terrain with the last row of stones almost always remaining flush with the terrain itself. The terracing is connected by a system of very steep stairs and ramps that become, in times of rain, the disposal system for the water. The stairs can be either parallel or perpendicular to the dry walls. In the Sorrento Peninsula, exposed and north-east facing, every particle cultivated is enclosed by containment walls. The wall, either dry or bonded, is not used solely on the slopes for the creation of embankments, but encloses the crops in the plains in extraordinary continuity. The process is amplified in time with the diffusion of the cultivation of citrus, which is highly profitable. The walls built in blocks of igneous rocks contain the ground in the upstream part of the slope and serve as security fence and shelter from the wind on the other side. This protection is further increased in height by elevations of the walls made ​​of wooden poles and straw mats called "pagliarelle." By tradition, under this cover hot vapors are produced by creating an additional warmth, burning wet straw and leaves of grass, a practice already observed during the time of the Romans. Given the need for poles of chestnut wood for the realization of the pergolas, each cultivated field is associated with a plot of forest that renews the resource of the poles at the same time in which it is consumed. 

Survival prospects

Preserved and Functional 




B - Agriculture
Identification code
Other Local applications of the technique


IPOGEA, www.ipogea.org
Other authors: