Fornello Sutainable Preservation Project

This listing expired on August 10, 2022. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Altamura, BA, IT

Season: August 19, 2022 to August 30, 2022

Session Dates: 2022 - August 19th – 30th, 2022

Application Deadline: August 10, 2022

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: 5% discount for AIA members

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:


Project Director:
Tonio Creanza

Project Description:

Fieldwork, study, research and hands-on cultural landscape conservation and restoration.

Fornello is a site made up of a Byzantine fresco cave, 12 additional cave dwellings and evidence of a settlement dating to the 3rd century B.C. The ancient settlement includes a shepherd’s house that dates to the 1700’s and dry-stone courtyards that outline a pre-existing sheep farm. It is one of the most interesting and historically important sites in the Murgia region of Puglia. The frescoes are comprised of three layers that date to 1100, 1200, and 1350. The fresco paintings document a link and a time in history when Byzantine communities spreading from the Balkans were establishing themselves in Puglia in the rupestral settlement.


The Fornello Sustainable Preservation Project focuses on the site in its early days of research and cultural landscape conservation. The program is an opportunity to experience and learn a wide spectrum of elements and aspects involved in cultural heritage preservation. The workshop also stimulates conversations and ideas around sustainable preservation, aiming towards a positive impact of these programs on local communities.

Throughout the course of the 2021 workshop session, we will work to:

  • reconstruct and restore the ancient dry-stone-wall of the site;
  • stabilize cave entrances and the natural skylights made by the original inhabitants of the rupestrian site of Fornello using natural material as tufa blocks and lime base mortar;
  • archaeological investigation and documentation in the event of features findings in the areas of the site subject to restoration and/or reconstruction work;
  • build the wood shelves and the door of the cheese aging cave;
  • introduction to the practices of fresco restoration and the history of Byzantine frescoes;
  • clear caves and landscape of brush and rock debris.

During the session, participants will be given instruction on archeological methods, techniques, and documentation while operating in a historical site.

On-site activities are essential to the conservation plan and integrate the local shepherds’ community sharing their knowledge and expertise of cheese making.

The workshop includes excursions and visits to historical sites, town and museums of the region to learn and understand the local history and culture.

Shepherds in the Cave – Documentary featuring the Fornello Project:

AAA article:…

Period(s) of Occupation: 3rd Century B.C. - 1700'

Sustainable historical site preservation Byzantine fresco art conservation and restoration Archeological research Food anthropology

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: full session

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No previous experience, nor prerequisites required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Our workshop home is in a 15th-century building in the small southern town of Gravina in Puglia. The town, built of golden tufa stone, crops up over a thread of rupestrian dwellings and ravine that winds towards open wheat fields and the sounds of evening swallows. With its ancient roots in the Peucetii culture and its position on the Appian way from Rome to the Mediterranean sea, Gravina is dense with history, archaeology and the arts. Emperor Frederick II chose the surrounding plateaus as his personal hunting grounds, referring to the area as “Grana dat et Vina”- meaning the land of wheat and wine. An hour inland from the Adriatic coast and neighbour to the Unesco World Heritage site of Matera, Gravina has been ruled through history by the  Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, Swabians and North Africans and one of its native residents Vincenzo Maria Orsini, went on to become the Pope Benedict XIII. Expect traditional dishes made by our boisterous and feisty cook Rosanna, join her in the kitchen anytime for authentic Puglian recipes inspiration. Meals will be in the field, dining room, in the courtyard with a movie or Italian language class, or local restaurants. Cost: Workshop fee 1860 EUR Fee includes accommodation in shared bedroom, transportation to and from the Bari airport or train station on arrival and departure days to Masseria La Selva, meals and wine, entrance fees to museums and sites. Fee does not include: airfare, personal health and travel insurance, and personal expenses.

Contact Information:

Tonio Creanza

Phone: +1 604-618-8449

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