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Dry stone walls
Dry stone walls are one of the characteristic elements of our territory; during the winter, when agricultural work was limited, farmers cleared the land of stones and used them to build walls, useful for supporting terracing. Larger blocks were used at the foot while smaller ones were used for elevation. The interstices were plugged with chips and smaller stones. Behind the wall, a mass of small material was placed to aid drainage.
From the point of view of soil protection, in fact, the dry wall is a great filter, and the terracing, in all its extension, is a great regulating system for the water that runs down the slopes. Terracing allows good tillage and reduces the speed of rainwater, preventing soil erosion. In dialect, dry stone walls are called 'marogne’.
LIFE IN DRY STONE WALLS(1)
On the wall there are plants with a reduced growth and better able to withstand the heat reflected from the wall and the drought; these are often succulent plants, such as pinwort. In the space between stones creep species that take advantage of the few drops of moisture available and the soil accumulated by the wind (parietaria and ferns). Wall and plants form a true biotope in which the wall performs a defensive function, but is also able to favourably influence the microclimate by acting in the summer months as a dew condenser, thus enabling numerous species to overcome the summer water crisis. Lichens and mosses are the pioneers and form a substrate that then allows the emergence of other higher plants. The crevices also provide shelters where insects such as spiders and animals such as rodents and reptiles breed. Among the latter, lizards are the most numerous. Climbing ivy prevents the growth of other plants but contributes to the containment function of the soil.
TERRACING AND AGRICULTURE(2)
Until the mid-20th century, this south-facing slope of the mountain, on which the village is perched, was cultivated mainly with vines and olive trees, and therefore there was no forest. It was terraced and more bare than it appears today. The path, which climbs gently with hairpin bends, follows the route of an old mule track on which the carts used for agricultural work passed.
IVY(3) Hedera helix, Famiglia Araliaceae
Native to Europe, it is common in temperate zones. It reaches large dimensions of up to 30 m. It spreads on old walls and forms carpets on the forest floor; It can live even more than 500 years. Some people call it the 'tree-killer', yet it does not suck its sap. It presents globular inflorescences in autumn and black, toxic fruits in winter.
IVY IN MYTH
In antiquity, this plant was thought to have the ability to calm the ardours of wine, and so ivy wreaths were placed on the heads of participants in the festivals of the god Bacchus. In Celtic mythology it is linked to the cult of the serpent and the dragon, symbols of the underworld. Ivy was considered an important magical plant against evil spirits, a symbol of fidelity and prosperity. It is a poisonous plant (the berries are particularly dangerous), but since antiquity it has also known medical applications to cleanse the liver or to soothe coughs or as a healing agent. In our area, a soapy ivy leaf was put on calluses that were said to disappear in three days.
The CTG El Preon APS Group has decided to dedicate this route among nature, history and tradition to the memory of one of the group's founding members, Romano Giacomelli, a tireless supporter of Cavaionese culture and education, who passed away in 2022.