From the end of the XIXth and the beginning the of XXth centuries, new communication routes promoted tourism in the Lanzo Valleys. The Germagnano Bridge was built in 1791, the paved road up to Viù in 1842 and to Margone in 1881, the driveway Procaria – Forno in 1878. The carriage road Ceres – Ala was built in 1873, it reached then Balme in 1887 and Pian della Mussa in 1910. Finally, in the lower Valley, the railroad Torino – Ceres was inaugurated in 1868 and finally reached Ceres in 1916. Along with tourism, the building of private homes for summer vacation of aristocratic families and of Turin richer bourgeoisie, and of luxury and comfortable hotels developed.
The various types of construction are villas, small houses, cottages and chalets, the spreading of which is particularly due to the Universal Exhibits. They are found in almost every Valley. We are going to mention some of the elements characterizing the mountain architecture at the time.
The local stone, used for building, at time is left natural and sometimes is plastered. Very often painted inserts are visible on the facades, proving a decorative intent tied to an instinctive devotion where the sacred image protects the house and the traveler. Beside this, there also is the collection of sundials, the most of which are in Val d’Ala, and trompe l’œil, optical illusion of architectural elements or of building materials. Widespread are door and window frames made of stone, wood, brick or plastered in various styles variations.
Loggias, roofed galleries on the side of a house, are characteristic. They may be simpler, just with a wooden balustrade, or structured with stone columns or brick pillars. These loggias may be repeated on several floors creating the typical so-called “case a loggiato”. The gallery is a panoramic viewpoint on the sunniest facade of the house, protected by the overhanging roof, which, at times, develops on more floors, connected by rigid vertical elements.
The roof covering is one element that mainly characterizes and bonds this type of mountain buildings. The higher in altitude, more common is the use of local stone (gneiss) slabs, split and laid down on the wooden framework.
Wooden lambrequins, sometimes open-works based on refined drawings, garnish roof outlines and skylights. In the end, the parco montano (villa’s park) is part of this architecture with its statues, fountains, gazebos, aviaries, greenhouses, caves and sports fields.