• The ovens


The ovens

Resorts: La Magdeleine

In three of the five hamlets there are public ovens. They belong to the municipality and may be used by following a few simple rules.At Messelod the oven is located on the road a bit before the Chapel of S. Rocco.The oven basically comes with a nice recently renovated rascard and maintains all aspects of an age-old Valdostan oven thanks to a skilful renovation.The opening or “mouth” of the oven has a triangular shape and was made by using a stone for each side of the triangle; on the floor, directly below the mouth a slot was made to gather the embers.On a stone the date 1889 is engraved.Going towards the upper villages, there is a two-storey stone building in the heart of Vieu:a modern renovation of the oven was carried out making it more convenient and functional.The oven is located on the ground floor, whilst an iron and wood staircase leads to the upper floor, where the kneading and leavening room for bread was made.Another recently restored oven is in the hamlet of Artaz, close to the rustic fountain that, going up towards the other villages, is located on the left.Also in this oven, just like the one of Messelod, there isn’t a room dedicated to the kneading and leavening of bread.Long ago, for the self-sufficient characteristics that distinguished the life of a small community like the one in La Magdeleine, in each of the five villages there was certainly one or more private and group ovens.It was tradition that each family would bake the bread that they needed for an entire year in only one occasion, starting from the first days of December.The bread was therefore preserved on wooden racks known as “ratéle” and broken only when it was consumed with a special tool:the “copapan”.The passing of time and lesser use of this tradition have considerably reduced the number of ovens.Those that still work come in different sizes but all have the same building characteristics.You can particularly notice how the front part of the oven guarantees a good shelter against rain or snow.The space used to gather the ashes was always very large. In fact, the ashes were never thrown away but used for “fae bouya”: the household laundry.


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Note - this information is not directly connected to the Cammino Balteo path but it is part of the Aosta Valley tourist offer.