Les Viles, typical Ladin constructions in Alta Badia in South Tyrol
"Vila" is the most ancient and typical human settlement in Val Badia with its origin in the Rhaetian "tambra", the first testimony of an alpine hut.
The "viles" are small residential agglomerations constructed according to precise plans, which together provide two ways of living: an open and social way introduced by the Romans and the closer and more isolated way of living which was typical of the Rhaetian and ancient Bavarian population.
It is believed that initially the "vila" was inhabited by one family only and that later it was extended with the arrival of other families.
Each family prolongs to one "vila" and owns two clearly distinctive buildings: the "ciasa" being the residential building with bedrooms on the first floor and the cellar, storage and working rooms on the ground floor. Just beside the "viles", with only a small field in-between, you can often find the "majun", which is the barn with stables on the ground floor and the "tablè" (for hay storage) on the first floor.
Special attention is given to wonderful ornamental carvings in the wood, which are often of ancient symbolic origin and provide an anomaly since wood carving was not a cultural heritage of the Ladin population.
The most important characteristic of the "viles" is however the joint use of common services like the central square with a fountain, the watering place for animals, the bread oven and the fact that the inhabitants used to work together like for example if a new barn had to be constructed.
We can now understand the great importance of a "vila" from a social point of view: a "vila" is not only a settlement of several farms, but rather a community based on solidarity and brotherhood, where the ideal balance between mankind and the environment can clearly be seen.
An important reason why the "viles" have been preserved up to date is the law of the "closed farm", which is still valid in South Tyrol. This law regulates that the agricultural property is given to the eldest son only and can not be divided amongst siblings.