Baite Daverio: i Walser

The renovation of the Daverio Baite (Huts) gave an extraordinary economy that necessary boost to never forget its remarkable origins.

In the process of transformation of the medieval economy, the influence of the monasteries and the presence of the feudal lords, who gave impetus to transalpine trade, favored the settlement of the Walser colonies in upper Valsesia starting from the second half of the thirteenth century. The foundation of these Walser colonies dates back to around 1285, although not a single document can be found to confirm this date with certainty. The treaty of Brusson of 1270 does not mention the existence of Walser settlements in the mountain pastures of Pietre Gemelle. Slowly, between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, the ancient pastures of the monasteries, in particular the stations at the bottom of the valley, were transformed into stable Walser villages.

The oldest testimony dates back to 1302, relating to a settler from Pedemonte “Anrigeto Alemannic of Apud Mot” who constituted the dowry for his daughter with a notary deed, in which his son-in-law Pietro Gualcio, was obliged to participate in the management of the agricultural-pastoral company of the family.

The community’s approach inclined towards a self-sufficient regime, importing only indispensable foodstuffs from the low-lying plains, which could not be produced locally. The money circulating in the community was essentially that obtained from emigration.

The logistical distribution of the inhabited areas reflected this self-sufficient model: the houses were built very close to each other, so much so that the roofs touched each other (so that the passage between one house and another was not prevented by snow during the winter). These residential clusters were surrounded by their pastures and fields. Each hamlet had its own bread oven, fountain and chapel; and each group of hamlets had a mill nearby. The exploitation of the territory was regulated so that an overload of animals or people would never occur, the result of which would have impoverished the area to the detriment of all.

The community was organized with a mixed system of private property and mutual funds. The meadows around the hamlet or pasture were communal, and each resident in the hamlet had permission to use it in proportion to the share owned. Furthermore, if a stranger wanted to settle in a hamlet, he needed the approval of at least two thirds of the inhabitants in that hamlet, in addition to the payment of a sum which was paid directly into the common fund. This applied equally and democratically, to the duties of shovelling snow in winter, and to using the bread oven and the mill. A rotation system guaranteed equal treatment to all inhabitants of the hamlet. With the construction of a new house, each person – old, young and women included, pitched in and contributed to the work in proportion to their strength and skills. In this way the building process could proceed quickly and at a modest expense for the owner.