Behind the simple traditional architecture that characterizes the constructions of the Aeolian Islands, in Sicily, there’s an array of elements and techniques worth to be told starting from the most ancient History.
For their position and composition, the Aeolian islands have been for many years the target of attacks coming from the sea. So, for this reason the Aeolian architecture sprouts from the necessity to resist and drive back external threats.
In addition to this historic aspect, we must keep in mind a second important point: the idea of life according to the Aeolian culture: functional, simple and essential.
These two elements have contributed to determine a precise style, known indeed by the name of “Aeolian Architecture", which today represents one of the most characteristic elements of the Aeolian Islands.
The typical Aeolian dwelling develops vertically and usually has one room only, with the shape of a cube or a parallelepiped, one entrance and two windows on the side walls. The typical example of Aeolian architecture is modular; that is, rooms can be added to others, according to the family needs.
The typical elements of the Aeolian Architecture are:
- The astricu, or horizontal roof. It is often made of battuto solare, a mix of limestone and volcanic lapilli. The battuto solare has an important function: it isolates the house from the cold in winter and from the heat in summer.
- The bagghiu (baglio), a large terrace on the front of the house.
- The bisola, small stone walls that mark the terrace and are sometimes decorated with majolica tiles.
- The loggia, a trellis of wooden beams covered with cane or vine, works as roof of the terrace.
- The pulèra, columns that support the loggia.
- The princu, a stone washbowl that rests on the pila , an outdoor tub used to do the laundry.
Each Aeolian house features the oven with its traditional cupola shape used to cook bread and cakes, and the bathroom, situated on the external sidewall facing north.
The building materials used in the Aeolian Architecture are local: lava stone to get solidity, pumice stone for the external walls, tuff stone for the terrace floor.
Today, the need for self-defense has given way to aesthetic and tourism needs: the Aeolian houses have various rooms in line, with larger windows and no bars, to be more open and bright.