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Building with what you have

Traditional architecture

An old rye straw thatched roof in Esterate, near Entracque (M. Contarino/PNAM)

If you stop to listen to it, traditional architecture has a long story to tell about mountain people and their relationship with the alpine environment. A rural story abruptly interrupted after the Second World War, leaving behind heaps of stones and memories...

As you walk the paths in the Park, you will come across houses and whole villages - some renovated, some in ruins - where you can still see, under the rendering and the damage, the features of the architecture of times gone by. Understanding what was built, how and why teaches us a lot about the builders of the past and their world.

Until the middle of the twentieth century, in the Maritime Alps as elsewhere in the Alps, building materials were those found locally. Great attention was paid to using all the tricks available to make the most of the light and heat from the sun, and at the same time minimising the loss of heat from inside. Houses were for people and animals: they were both houses, stables, store rooms, larders and workshops for transforming raw materials. This is the case generally all over the mountains, but a particular characteristic of the Parco delle Alpi Marittime and a limited number of other places in Piedmont is the architectural style of roofs thatched with rye straw...

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Ente di gestione Aree protette delle Alpi Marittime