Charcoal burning at Casa Debbio

After WWII there was very little money to be had by Italians living in the mountains of the Garfagnana. Woodcutters had no customers so some of them turned to charcoal making.
One of my neighbours in Vergemoli showed me a small patch of land at the end of our drive with a dry stone wall edge where charcoal was made.
It is overgrown and the wall is falling down, but I was delighted to find a little piece of history so close to our house.
charcoal burning platform at Casa Debbio
The charcoal makers work was very difficult. It would take many months to cut the wood and then weeks to make the charcoal.
Logs were piled on their ends to form a conical pile, with an opening left at the bottom to admit air. There was a central shaft to serve as a flue.
Charcoal burners
The whole pile was covered with turf or moistened clay. The firing began at the bottom of the flue and gradually spread upwards.
Charcoal burners
Once the charcoal was made and cooled it was raked into jute bags. Each bag weighed between 80 and 90 kilos. They were loaded onto donkeys or wagons drawn by oxen.
charcoal burners
Life must have been hard for these men. At least they had a good house nearby. Many charcoal burners lived in remote areas with little contact with other people.
I think we will clear the area to make it a pleasant place to sit and think about how lucky we are.