The Maso is a typical alpine structure for agricultural use, present in the eastern alpine valleys. Discover its characteristics and other curiosities

What is the Maso?

The Maso ( in German: Bauernhof) is a typical agricultural property of Tyrol, an alpine area between Northern Italy ( Alto-Adige) and Austria.

The Maso is composed of several elements belonging to one family, in order to preserve the hereditary tradition of this type of property:

  • The structures dedicated to the services for the pastoral activity. There is the stable on the ground floor, and a barn for the storage of fodder in winter. Sometimes the stable and the barn are included in the main building, other times they form a separate structure.
  • An area destined for residential and receptive use, including the rooms, the kitchen and the living room. The latter, in the German-speaking valleys, is called Stube, because of the presence of the characteristic ceramic stove. The prevailing material in the rooms is wood.
  • Sloping terrain for grazing and haymaking
  • Other structures such as the wash-house, the hen-house and the cheese factory
tipica azienda agricola nelle alpi orientali

The architectural style of the buildings is not homogeneous. It varies according to the availability of building materials in the areas surrounding the Maso. In valleys rich in wood, the farmhouse is essentially built in wood. In other areas, less rich in forests, it is more common to use a combination of stone, lime and wood.

On the farm, the cattle are mainly used for the production of mountain milk. A few farms are also dedicated to meat production.

What does it mean "Maso chiuso"?

The peculiarity of most of the alpine farms in the eastern Alpine valleys is their indivisibility. A “Maso chiuso” (closed Maso) is an indivisible unit belonging to a single owner.

The custom of this type of practice derives from the need to prevent the splitting up of the alpine territory. Already in the Middle Ages, landowners had understood that a subdivision of the farm and the parceling of land would have reduced the productive capacity and consequently the harvest.

As this practice has been in use for hundreds of years, the indivisibility of the Maso is defined by specific regional laws that guarantee legal uniformity and continuity of use over time.

Today's use of the Maso

In recent times, many farms have been transformed into entirely receptive structures, in which the livestock is not present. They are real hotels equipped with every comfort. They have, however, preserved the historical architectural style and are furnished with wooden furniture typical of the alpine valleys.

maso alpino in Alta Badia
Image source: altabadia.org

Where do you find the best preserved Maso farms?

The most beautiful and characteristic farms are located in the side valleys of Südtirol. For example in Valle Isarco, Val Pusteria, Alta Badia and Val di Sole. Not far from the large urban centers of Bolzano and Trento.

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