The Woods

Vette di Feltre from Val Noana
(photo by: Gianni Poloniato)

Woods have always been one of the most fluctuating elements of the landscape, the first to be attacked to obtain new pastures or cultivable land, firewood, and fuel for the melting furnaces of mines, when demographic pressure or bad economic circumstances were more evident.
The arboreal vegetation was selected in order to gain space for the more useful or profitable species. Teams of woodsmen, following a hierarchical organization, were at ease in the woodlands. Cutting the wood, getting the timber down to the valley bottom, and stockpiling it demanded technical capacities and a deep knowledge of the environmental morphology.
Also coalmen used to travel across the woods. Most of the year, they used to live in clearings, sleeping in huts made with branches. Men, women, and children prepared charcoal piles (called “poiàt”) in flat areas (“éra”, “aiàl”), looking after the fire day and night, until the smoke became deep blue and the charcoal was ready. The most suitable kind of trees were used to build objects and tools.
The wood was the favorite place to meet imaginary characters. People believed that they lived in the rocky fissures, in caves, and near water springs: “Om Salvàrech”, “Mazaròl” dressed in red, the wonderful “Vane” or “Anguane”, the silly “Cavestrane”, the fearful “Caza Salvarega”.