At the foot of the Monte Rosa

My Italian summer started in Gressoney, a tiny village high in the Alps at the foot of the Monte Rosa. Gressoney is one of the few Walser communities in Europe. The Walser people, originary from Switzerland, abandoned their homeland, the canton of Valais, and between the X and the XIII century settled in various locations in Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.

The Walser heritage is still very much alive in Gressoney, in the unique language spoken by the inhabitants, called Titsch (a German Walser dialect), in the architecture of the traditional houses and in the beautiful red, black and gold dresses worn by the women on important occasions.

The style of the typical Walser houses has been determined by the very cold Alpine weather, by the building materials available on site (stone and timber) and by the local economy based mainly on high mountain agriculture and cheese and butter manufacturing.

Usually the houses have a ground floor built in stone and upper floors in timber. The timber logs are squared and notched to form a square self supporting structure. Traditionally moss and resin were used to fill the gaps between the logs. The roof structure is in timber and is covered with stone tiles. The building date is usually carved on the main beam. Often the house has balconies, traditionally used to dry crops.