If It Ain’t Broke…

June 22, 2009 / Local Interest
dammuso1“Independent home, made with local, non-toxic, materials only. Passive solar, automatically temperature controlled for optimal comfort in both hot summers and cold winters. Off-grid, semi-closed, water harvesting and storage system included.”

You would think it’s the ad for some joint Finnish-designed / MIT-engineered, 21st century eco-dwelling or something.

Actually, it’s probably what they would have come up with, but they’re thousands of years behind the game. It’s the description of a dammuso, the traditional home built, unchanged, on the island of Pantelleria since time immemorial (by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantine, etc.) out of the plentiful local black volcanic rock, stacked and set dry (no cement).

dammuso2Unchanged is not entirely true… the last improvement was introduced about 2000 years ago by the Romans. They introduced a slightly domed roof in order to collect rainwater, as well as the small cisterns on each property to collect it.

Even as many are transformed into beautiful B&Bs and guest homes, the slightly domed roofs are still made the same way to this day. Using ground, local, red volcanic rock this time, the roof is pounded into place for days on end with large wooden poles. Then coated with a lime-based paint, it becomes harder and harder over the years as the seasons alternate rain and sun and cold, guaranteeing more constant temperature inside the dammusi throughout.

Done right since… forever.

–Contributed by Paolo Caravacci and Paola De Angelis, expert Pantelleria hosts at www.lacalettadipantelleria.it.

2 Responses to “If It Ain’t Broke…”

  1. Olivia Maceo

    I would like to know how I could get some seeds to grow the capers mentioned in this article.


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