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LAVA GROTTOS OF SIMETOTHE CALANNA ROCKTO ETNA FEETBRONTE'S FORESTS,  "U PAGGHIARU",  THE SCIARA,  THE ETNA

Rural architecture

"u Pagghiaru"


The most primitive example of rural architecture that is found in the country areas of the north-east side of Etna (Bronte, Maletto and Randazzo) is a typical construction in dry masonry made of lava stones with a dome-shaped conic roof  (“u pagghiaru”).

The construction is present with some odd exemplary.
Is a primitive form of rural building typical of the zone and was used as a refuge that could hold a maximum of ten persons in case of necessity.

Above all had the function to offer to the Bronte's peasants or shepherds a day shelter and, sometime, when required by the circumstances, even a shelter for the night.

Constructed with dry stones, it is, nearly always, of a circular shape, with only one opening and is crowned by a covering of stones placed in concentric circles of decreasing diameter, towards the top.
 

"U pagghiaru" ("the straw stack", this way, even if improperly, is called in Bronte this strange habitation) was the first refuge of the ancient inhabitants of this side of Etna.

Probably is coeval to the cave: appeared, in fact, before the other typical construction of this area “a casotta” ("this little house" also one single room, but  rectangular, in dry masonry realized with lava stones and, some­time, with cantonal sto­nes roughly squared).

“U pagghiaru”, is a very ancient type of Mediterranean habitation of prehistoric derivation: appeared first isolated and soon after, as the habitation unit of the pri­mitive prehistoric village.

Our ancestors, Sicani and Siculi, probably began this way their relational life, trying to copy what nature had offered to them with the natural caverns.

The selection of the locality was made in a way that would assure, above all, the stability, in a place naturally protected from the winds, from bad weather and from eventual inundations caused by heavy rains or overflowing torrents and rivers.

Also, generally, they carefully tried to realize the construction over emerging lava banks to avoid a direct contact with the nude earth.

Even if created to accommodate  all the members of the family, it never lost his characteristic of a simple and unitary mono-local.
 

Today these rudimentary and primitive constructions, put in rare exemplary in the middle of woods or of the  sciare of Etna, represent a singular specifi­city, a cultural and historic value; are a tangible testimony of our peasant civi­lization but, in reality, are, unfortuna­tely,  in a condition of total aban­don and of progressive  inexorable degrade.

"U Pagghiaru" is a typical example of primitive, rural ar­chi­tecture, constructed dry, in circular plan with slabs of lava stone, with a covering shaped like a conic cusp, and disposed to concentric circles of a diameter decreasing towards the top.
The construction shown above is still in a good condi­tion and it is nearly adjacent to the state road 284 that goes from Bronte to Randazzo.

This typical ancient construction still present in rare exem­plary on the slopes of Etna, is situated in the pe­riphe­ry of Bronte, adjacent to the road which takes to the quar­ter of Sciarotta.
The unknown administrator (or who for him) has concei­ved in this way recovery,  safeguard and the valorization  of this  precious man made relict.

Translated by Sam Di Bella

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