There was much interest in the production of charcoal because it made easier and lighter the transport of wood from distant places, and for commercial expediency. Charcoal consumption was very high especially for domestic use: braziers, warmers and flatirons used the charcoal in a more efficient way and less smoke was produced. To obtain charcoal, it is necessary to burn the wood at a very high temperature with the lowest possible amount of oxygen.
The charcoal-burner built a chimney in the centre of the clamp. It was a hollow vertical structure, which was made for the igniting and control of the oxygen used for the combustion. Around it, the charcoal-burner arranged the cut and chopped wood to form a perfect dome-shaped wood stack. Then the construction had to be covered with turf and earth to stop air from entering. The stack was then set alight from the central chimney and the carbonation controlled by making holes in several places so that the volatile substances, produced by the combustion, could leak out.
One week or more from the lighting, the charcoal was ready to be sold. Usually it was the women who went to collect it since in the rural world they often had the hard task of transporting the heaviest and most varied loads. It is still easy to find small pieces of charcoal around the clamps.
The Historical Sonvico Nature Trail
Stage 1: Well and "Riaron"
Stage 2: House of Reason
Stage 3: Graad
Stage 4: Cassinel
Stage 5: The mixed broadleaf woods
Stage 6: Geological oddities
Stage 7: Mill and bridge
Stage 8: The glade in the wood
Stage 9: The torrent Franscinone
Stage 10: Wash-house
Stage 11: The birds of the wood
Stage 12: The eroded valley of the Franscinone
Stage 12: Water and energy
Stage 13: The edge of the flood-level wood
Stage 14: Dairy farm for the processing of milk
Stage 15: Lime-kiln
Stage 16: The rural area
Stage 17: The Humid area of Canéed
Stage 19: Terracing
Stage 20: Madonna d'Arla
Stage 21: The Chestnut Wood of Pian Piret
Stage 22: The Beechwood
Stage 23: The Boulder with Engraved Cupels
Stage 23: I Denti della Vecchia
Stage 24: R’Alborón
Stage 25: The Oratory of S. Martino
Stage 26: The old center of Sonvico
Stage 27: The Walnut Press
Stage 28: The Church of Saint John the Baptist
The Luganese Regional Bus Line covers the Lugano – Sonvico stretch; from Val Colla you can reach Sonvico, using the postal bus from Tesserete to Sonvico.