Page 1

World Rural Landscapes Atlas Mountain landscape system. Short transhumance

Mondonico/Dorio landscape system of short transhumance

World Rural Landscapes Atlas

Mondonico/Dorio landscape system of short transhumance Authors Lionella Scazzosi, Raffaella Laviscio, Andrea L’Erario | Politecenico di Milano, Italy

Mondonico/Dorio landscape system of short transhumance

1. Designation and classification

5. Landscape system description

Landscape system’ of Dorio/Mondonico short transhumance 6.3 Mountain landscape system. Short transhumance.

The landscape system of short transhumance of Dorio/Mondonico is based on a “two stations” system of settlements, related to seasonal movement of cattle (mainly cows, and few sheep) from the villages located in front of the lake to the alpine pasture. In this specific case study, there is not a real “low valley”: the settlements are located in front of Lake Como, because of the land geomorphology. The “low” settlements of the landscape system were Dorio, Mondonico, Torchiedo and Panìco. In the Middle Ages, Mondonico was probably the main settlement of the low valley. Century by century, local people moved to the settlement located along the shoreline of Lake Como, which was historically called Solmogno (and then changed name to Dorio). Dorio became the main settlement. Four small alpine settlements (Perdonasco, Sparesèe, Vezzée and Falgaröö) were the spring/summer stations. People brought cattle at “Valliscione” pasture as well, near the four alpine settlements listed before. The “Valliscione” pasture was a Municipal land property for civic use. Farmers from the low valley settlements used to give custody of cattle to shepherds. Shepherds used milk to make cheese. Some farmers living in Dorio used to board cows on small boats to bring them to the town of Dongo, located on the other side of Lake Como. From Dongo, shepherds used to bring cows to the high pastures of Albano Valley. The landscape system also related to the agricultural and forest ground use. Agricultural terraces still characterize the area between Dorio and Mondonico. Currenty they are not cultivated. A chestnut grove and mixed forest characterize the area above Mondonico settlements.

2. Object and Location Dorio/Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance, Lake Como, Alpes, Italy. The landscape system is located in the Dorio Municipality, area of Lake Como, in the region of Lombardy, Italy. It is a system of settlements and ground use (agricultural, forest and pasture), related to seasonal movement of cattle.

3. Historical origin The origin of the landscape system probably dates back to the high Middle Ages.

4. Geographical distribution It is possible to identify other landscape systems which are similar to Dorio one in the area of Lake Como, and also in other areas in the Alps, Apennines and in Europe.


Fig. 1 – Location of Dorio/Mondonico landscape system: territorial scale (map source: Google Earth; graphic elaboration: Andrea L’Erario)

Dorio/Mondonico short transhumance system: stations Dorio/Mondonico short transhumance system was characterized by two “stations”: • The first with a permanent use: four settlements (Dorio, Mondonico, Torchiedo and Panìco), which are surrounded by agricultural terraces, a chestnut grove and mixed forest. There are two small churches (Dorio and Mondonico). 4

• The second station was the alpine pasture (seasonal use). Small rural settlements (Perdonasco, Sparesèe, Vezzée and Falgaröö) and the “Valliscione” pasture characterized the second station. There is a small chapel in Sparesèe village. Altitude of transhumance stations • Low settlements (Dorio, Mondonico, Torchiedo and Panìco): 220-320 m. a.s.l.

Fig. 2 [left] – Location of Dorio/Mondonico landscape system: Provincial scale. The map shows the boundaries of the Municipalities of Lecco Province, which are located in the Alpine area or overlooking Lake Como. The main urban center of the Province (Lecco) and Dorio Municipality are in red. (map source: Google Earth, graphic elaboration: Andrea L’Erario)

• Alpine settlements and pastures: between 600 m. a.s.l. (Perdonasco) and 750-850 m. a.s.l. (“Valliscione”) Physical connections between the stations A path connects the permanent use station to the alpine pasture station. This path was historically called “The pathway to the mountains” (“El sentèe di moont”). Nowadays, this path is called “Wayfarer path”. Another path connects Mondonico to the chestnut grove and the mixed forest located on the mountainside behind the village (“Municipal road called ‘of the woods’”, “Strada comunale detta dei boschi”).

Fig. 3 [right] – Diagram of the historical structure of the Dorio/Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance. The diagram also shows the interaction between the Dorio/ Mondonico landscape system and other landscape systems related to Lake Como (graphic elaboration: Andrea L’Erario) 5

Fig. 4 – Historical structure of Dorio/ Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance (settlement legend: Low valley - 1. Dorio, 2. Mondonico, 3. Panìco, 4. Torchiedo; High valley – A. Perdonasco, B. Sparesèe, C. Vezzée, D. Falgaröö). The map also shows the supposed areas and main connections of the landscape systems of short transhumance adjacent to that of Dorio/ Mondonico (map source: Regione Lombardia, graphic elaboration: Andrea L’Erario)

6. Productive processes Before the 60s-70s • Small cultivations on the terraces: vineyards, vegetable garden (potatoes, beans, etc.), fruit garden; for the sustenance of local people. There were agricultural terraces near each low valley settlement (between Dorio and Mondonico, near Panìco and Torchiedo); • Productive chestnut grove: chestnut harvest in the autumn, wood harvest, and undergrowth cultivation harvest (mushrooms, berries, etc.); • Mixed forest (low valley): wood harvest and undergrowth 6

cultivation harvest (mushrooms, berries, etc.); • Pine-wood (high valley): wood harvest; • Pastures (high valley): for cattle grazing (and therefore for cattle feeding) in warmer seasons. Today • No agricultural activities on the terraces; • Sheep breeding (few animals) only in Mondonico; • No seasonal movements to the high pastures.

Fig. 5 – Historical structure of Dorio/ Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance (map source: Google Maps, graphic elaboration: Andrea L’Erario)

7. Tangible components Low sector of the landscape system • Settlements (Dorio, Mondonico, Panìco and Torchiedo): buildings with different uses characterized the villages (houses, stables and small and buildings for food transformation and conservation). In Mondonico, the stables were located near the houses. In Dorio village, buildings had also more differenciated uses, according the cadastral list of owners and properties. In some cases, stables and houses were in the same building: stables downstairs and houses upstairs. Near the stables, there were manurehills. There are two

• • • •

churches, both dedicated to St. George, one in Dorio and the smallest in Mondonico; Agricultural terraces and dry-stone walls: are located between Mondonico and Dorio. In the past there were terraces near Panìco and Torchiedo villages as well; Chestnut grove: located behind Mondonico, on the mountain side; Mixed forest: located all around the villages and along the pathway to the high valley; Creeks, fountains and water mills: short watercourses. Water was channelled to be used for human beings, animals, and for the watermills. The watermills are located in the 7

area called “Watermills Valley” (“Valle dei Mulini”); • Pathways: there are two main pathways. The first one is called “road to the mountains” and links the low valley to the pastures. The second one is called “road to the wood” and links Mondonico to the chestnut grove. Other small pathways connect Dorio to Mondonico through the agricultural terraces and Dorio to Panìco and Torchiedo; • Places for social practices: several open spaces are recognizable between Mondonico and Dorio buildings. They were used as community open-air areas for meeting and working. High valley • Alpine settlements (Perdonasco, Sparesèe, Vezzée, Falgaröö): Sparesèe and Vezzée are two small alpine villages. Small isolated buildings characterized Perdonasco and Falgaröö. The buildings were mainly houses for shepherds. Stables were few and small. In some cases, shepherds and cows lived in the same room. In the buildings, there was only scattered and functional furniture. Pastures and pine-woods surrounded the settlements; • Chapels (St. Rocco and St. Maria “Regina dei Monti” chapels): the first chapel is located along the path “to the mountains” (currently called “Wayfarer path”), the second one is located in Sparesèe village; • Mixed forest and pine-wood: located on the mountain sides. They surround settlements and pathways; • Pastures (“Dorio mountains” pastures and “Valliscione” pasture): located around the four alpine settlements and near the area known as “Valliscione forest”. Nowadays the ancient pastures are covered by pine-woods; • Pathways: the main path linked the alpine villages and pastures to the low valley (“Road to the mountains”). Secondary small paths linked the alpine settlements to each other, and to the pastures.

8. Intangible components In the past there were three religious rites in St. George church in 8

Mondonico, which were related to agricultural and pastoral life: 17th January (St. Anthony the Abbot): blessing of animals and stables; 24th April: blessing of silkworm eggs; April: “Rogazioni” (also called “Letani”). Prayer ceremonies for sowing success. They aimed to ask God to bless water, men’s work, fruits and vegetables. There were also two laical ceremonies: March: a ceremony called in the local dialect “Ciamà l’erba”; 23th April (St. George): rite of the bonfire. There were no rituals specifically related with transhumance. Transhumance was called, in the local dialect, “monticazione”. Mondonico transhumance is described in historic documents of 1398 (“Statuti comunali di Dervio-Corenno”). Three traditional religious rites are still alive: The St. George bonfire (Fig. 8); The short pilgrimage to St. Maria “Regina dei Monti” chapel in July (Fig. 9). The short pilgrimage to St. Rocco chapel in August (Fig. 10); Local dialect (translation of the names of some landscape tangible components or places) High valley house with a small stable: “casina” Building for chestnut dehydration: “agrèe” or “grèe” Building for milk transformation and cheese conservation: “baite” or “baitel” Building for vegetable dehydration: “lobbie” Chapels: “gisoo” Open-air area for coal merchants: “ajal” Alpine pasture: “alp”

9. Historical changes Since the 60s, the Dorio Municipality population has decreased (from 487 people in 1961 to 337 to 2011, National Census data). Nowadays, few aged people take care of the landscape. Few sheeps are located in a small stable in Mondonico. There are no cows anymore. Therefore, the transhumance practice is

Fig. 6 – Tangible components of Dorio/Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance (low valley) (photos: Andrea L’Erario, Alessia Silvetti, Silvia Erba, 2014)

Low sector of the landscape system (permanent use)

The “low” settlements in front of the lake

House (on the right), stable and barn (on the left)

Mondonico village

St. George church

Building for food conservation

Terraces and dry-stone walls




Fig. 7 – Tangible components of Dorio/Mondonico landscape system of short transhumance (high valley) (photos: Andrea L’Erario, 2014; Dorio Municipality)

High valley (seasonal use) The pathway from Mondonico to the pastures (called “Road to the mountains”)

The pathway

Fountain along the pathway

The pathway

St. Rocco chapel

The pathway Alpine pastures (“Dorio mountains” and “Valliscione” pasture)

A fountain, probably for animals, St. Maria chapel in Sparesèe along the water course of a creek village

Alpine settlement of “Dorio mountains”. In the foreground there is a fountain. On the left there is a small religious aedicule and there is a fresco on the façade of the central building. The aedicule and the fresco are both dedicated to St. Maria.


Perdonasca settlement with isolated buildings


not necessary anymore. This caused the abandonment of the high valley pastures. The ancient pastures are now covered by pine-wood, which grew spontaneously (Fig. 11-12). Few people have continued to cultivate on the agricultural terraces. Most of them are abandoned. Some cultivations, like the vineyard, have disappeared (Fig 15-16). The name of a short path from Dorio town to the northern side of the mountain recalls the ancient agricultural practice: it is still called “to the vineyard” (“Alla vigna”). Because of its state of neglect, trees cover most of the terraced land. Trees grew spontaneously. Currently it is possible to recognize clearly the landscape architecture of terraces and dry-stone walls in the area between Dorio and Mondonico settlements. In other areas of the low valley, the terraced landscape structure is not easily recognizable. In particular most of terraces around Panìco and Torchiedo settlements has disappeared due to urbanization, as well as some terraces around Dorio town along Lake Como shoreline (Fig. 13-14) The other tangible landscape components of the historical landscape still exist: the pathways, the chapels, the small settlements with their buildings. However, they have lost their ancient use. Some of them have a touristic role (like the Wayfarer path, which is the ancient pathway to the pastures). All Mondonico buildings are in decay. Nowadays, the ancient buildings for shepherds in the high valley are houses for summer holidays. Dorio town, which is the main settlement, is still populated throughout the year. The intangible components of the landscape are mainly lost. Few aged local people know the historic construction techniques of terraces and dry-stone walls, and can pass down the intangible ‘landscape memory’.

Fig. 8 – St. George bonfire

Fig. 9 – The pilgrimage to St. Maria chapel

Fig. 10 – The pilgrimage to St. Rocco chapel


Fig. 11 [left] – The 18th century map shows the pasture areas (green line) (source: ASCo; elaboration: L’Erario) Fig. 12 [right] – Nowadays, the ancient pastures no longer exist: forest covers the areas (Lombardy Region) Fig. 13 [left] – The photo shows the area with the terraces, between Dorio and Mondonico (Dorio Municipality) Fig. 14 [right]– Nowadays, the agricultural terraces are no longer cultivated (L’Erario, 2014) Fig. 15 [left] – The historical photo shows the vineyard cultivation on the agricultural terraces (Dorio Municipality) Fig. 16 [right] – Nowadays, the terraced land is no longer cultivated (L’Erario, 2014)


Sources and references • Interview to Roberto Pozzi (January 18th, 2018) • National Archive of Como (ASCo) • National Census, Istat (Istituto nazionale di statistica, Italian National statistics Institute) • Pozzi, R. (2014). L’arco balenò nelle nostre vite: sguardi di futuro. Lecco: Cattaneo Editore • Pozzi, R. (2016). L’arco balenò nelle nostre vite: sguardi e scelte. Lecco: Cattaneo Editore • Regione Lombardia • Scazzosi, L. (2010). Part IV: Landscape Assessment and Policies, IV.5: Conclusions. In Kruse, A., Pungetti, G. (eds.). European Culture expressed in Agricultural Landscapes. Perspectives from the Eucaland Project. Rome: Palombi Reporters Lionella Scazzosi, Raffaella Laviscio, Andrea L’Erario | Politecnico di Milano, Italy Date and updaitings March, 2018


Profile for Laboratorio PaRID

Wrl atlas mondonico  

Wrl atlas mondonico  

Profile for labparid