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The hidden cities of ravines

Recovery project, development and use of hypogeum village and archaeological park

  • Client:
    Società Cooperativa Archeologia
  • Year:
  • Type:
  • Status:
  • Team:
    archt. Fernando Russo
  • Consultants:
    Maioli Group
  • Location:
    Mottola (TA) - Italy

The project for the recovery, use and development of hypogeum village "Petruscio" and the archaeological park of "Casalrotto” is part of the integrated program of sector called "Habitat rupestre" and it includes one of rocky settlements that form the original nucleus of the territory of the ravine that from Mottola reaches up to Palagianello, passing by Grottaglie and Massafra.
In these places the use of the troglodytic dwelling "carved" into the soft calcarenite evolves and expands relentlessly until the end of the Lower Middle Ages until the beginning of the Modern Age, over a lapse of time that includes the period of the first Byzantine colonization and the barbarian invasions.
The planned intervention looks at the church of San Gregorio, the cave
 churches situated in "Casalrotto" that is to say the little churches of San Nicola, Sant'Angelo, Santa Margherita and the area of Petruscio with a detailed action concerning the area above the rocky village, in which falls the "torre di Casalrotto", the ancient road link between the town of Mottola and the Appian Way, the path that goes down into the ravine and reaches the so-called “Cave House” (“Casa grotta”). There are different existing restrictions in the area and the project had to conform to: landscape, archaeological and hydrogeological - forestry restrictions. In every project choice proposed it took in consideration the great-strong landscape/environmental features in the area. The routes, the various heights will be connected using the techniques of bioengineering making use of natural materials.
The project focuses exclusively on the recovery of archaeological sites and in particular provides for: the road network of direct access to the Crypts; the conservative salvage of underground structures with consolidation interventions aimed at the reconstitution of existing damages and blanks; the conservative reclamation of the wall finishes and frescoes; some interventions of archaeological excavation and site mapping; the placing of didactic,  naturalistic and indicative signs of the paths; the placing of furnitures and elements of protection compared to heights changes; the protection against rain waters and their regimentation; the safety of the edges of the square with the installation of barriers consist of chestnut tree stakes forming parapets properly anchored into the stone (this barrier will be placed in a viewing area sufficiently back from the ridge); arrangement and safety of access routes to the caves with the installation of barriers made of chestnut stakes, forming parapets properly anchored, to settle along the various heights; the placing of vertical stairs, to be built on site with the techniques of bioengineering, helpful to overcome various heights less easy to pedestrian passage. (translated by Irene Bonifacino)