The art of building dry stone walls

Antonio is a master of dry stone walls. It is he who has restored the existing ones and built new ones. To mark out animal pens, the various agricultural crops and gardens, taking care to leave a few pockets in the ground inside for the ever-present capers (Capparis spinosa).

This is how landscape architect Filippo Piva talks about the art of building dry stone walls:Stopping to watch a master of this art at work mistakenly makes one think that it is a humble and simple job, because of the ease with which he identifies the right stone from among the many and how he turns it over in his hands until he finds the right direction and makes it fit perfectly with the others that have already been arranged.The dry-stone wall, where every single stone has a reason for being in that precise spot, is in some way the paradigm of the Salento landscape which, because of its harshness and hardness, does not allow anything to be left to chance, but requires pondered gestures full of age-old wisdom.A territory such as Salento's - completely marked by infinite grids of dry-stone walls that draw the entire countryside, delineating the boundaries between the olive groves, following the roads, passing the 'greenhouses', separating the areas of Mediterranean scrub from the cultivated ones - tells of a complex agriculture, of man's effort to make the land fertile, of expert hands that have collected, chosen and positioned these stones in the right way to stand the test of time.