The local stone, especially soapstone with its characteristic green colour, has been the foundation and key to construction and decoration of plates, bowls, boxes and traditional stoves.
Of all the local stone found in Valle d|"Aosta, soapstone is one of the most commonly used by craftsmen in the area. It is a homogeneous, compact green rock known to the inhabitants of the Alps since neolithic times thanks to the fact that it can easily be carved and worked as soon as it is extracted from the quarry. For centuries, the soapstone has been extracted from the strains of green rock that in many parts of Switzerland and Lombardia was the start of a flourishing manufacturing and extractive industry.
The name given to this kind of stone comes from the term olla that means large vase in terracotta or other material, in the shape of a pot that the Romans used to cook and store food in and also to keep ash". In Valle dâ€™Aosta, the stone found in Valtournenche, in the Valle dâ€™Ayas and in Valle di Champorcher, has held a certain importance for centuries as a material for the manufacturing of various items and containers worked with the use of pedal operated lathes.
Especially in Valtournenche, home to the lathes, the craftsmen have specialised in the production of highly decorated stoves, so much so that, until the introduction of central heating, many middle class families had one in the living room. Nowadays, carved and sculpted, it is used for the creation of sculptures, plates, bowls, boxes and obviously for the stoves.