Starting the Walls Using Poroton Blocks to Form the Core of the Walls

Work has begun on the building of the exterior walls. The first step is to build a structural wall out of Poroton blocks, the same type of blocks as were used to provide structure, soundproofing, and insulation to the slab between the two floors. Later, the exterior will be finished with stone and the interior with plaster.

In this overview photo, the house is coming along nicely.

Project Overview of building project in Le Marche, Italy
Casa Avventura Today
Click image to enlarge

After reading about them and seeing the pictures of our walls in progress, I had a question: why were the using the blocks with the cores arranging horizontally? Typical construction practice seemed to be with vertical cores, like is done with cinder blocks. Then I read further: they can be used horizontally in walls.

Poroton wall block close up
Closeup of Wall Construction

I also read that when used horizontally, they should have vertical “caps” at the ends. and not just end with an “open” block.

Poroton laying pattern
Proper Laying Pattern

Now when I looked at the pictures again, I noticed that the caps were not being used, So now that question is, why not? I’m off to Kevin to find out.

Here are all the pictures.

An Update

Kevin cleared up my confusion about the horizontal cores and the lack of the end cap pieces. The caps are needed when building a load-bearing wall, but in our house the load is carried by the reinforced concrete column and beam framework. I had not read the document describing Poroton wall construction carefully enough.

Poroton diagram: |
All other images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

Traditional Marche Foods: DOPs, IGPs, and STGs Explained

In another post about Marchigian wines, I discussed the various classifications: DOC, DOCG, and IGT. There’s also a classification system for traditional foods.

It uses a similar nomenclature, covering a geographic area and setting down rules that must be followed, and meets the European Union standards for a classification.

DOP label
DOP Seal

One classification is DOP, Denominazione di Origine Protetta. This certifies that a product was made/produced and packaged in the designated region by farmers and artisans using only traditional methods. There are about 138 DOPs in Italy, 6 in Marche.

One illustrative non-Marche example is aceto balsamico, balsamic vinegar, from either Modena or Reggio Emilia in the region of Emilia-Romagna. Produced in one of those places, using the traditional methods, etc., and it can be DOP. Balsamic vinegar produced elsewhere isn’t DOP and can’t be called tradizionale. So to be sure you’re getting the DOP product, you need to look for the DOP label.

IGP logo
IGP Seal

The other classification is IGP, Indicazione Geografica Protetta. These products satisfy some of the DOP requirements, including place of production or processing, but not all. There are about 83 of these in Italy, 8 in Marche.

(There is a third classification, SGT, Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, but there are only two products: mozzarella and pizza napoletana, neither of which is strongly connected to Marche.)

A bit confusingly, though these designations are based on geography, DOPs and IGPs for the same products show up in multiple regions, in some cases.

In the following chart, I’ve listed the classifications which apply to Marche and have indicated if they are solely Marchigian.

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Provinces: AN-Ancona, AP-Ascoli Piceno, MC-Macerata, PU-Pesaro e Urbino

Certification seals: Ministero delle Politche Agricoli e Forestli mipaaf |

Marche Wines: Your DOCs, DOCGs, and IGTs

Marche produces about 10.7 million cases of wine a year. That’s over 120 million bottles and you’ve probably only had one type, but didn’t realize it was from Marche: Verdicchio. Neither had I until I started exploring the region.

wine grapes

Of that 10.7 million, about 60% has no special “classification.” It is called vino da tavola, or table wine. Much of it is probably made for home consumption or local distribution, where a classification wouldn’t really apply.

The remaining 40% of Marche’s wine would fall into three groups, based on where it is produced and how it is made. (These classification groups are used throughout Italy and are in line with European Union practice and procedure.)

The biggest group is called DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata. This certification means that a wine is produced from grapes grown in a defined area, following standards of both composition and method of production. There are 15 DOCs in Marche.

Here is an example of some of the rules for Marche’s largest production red wine, Rosso Piceno:

  • Varieties: 35–85% Montepulciano; 15–50% Sangiovese; maximum 15% other authorized varieties
  • Minimum alcohol level: 11.5% for Rosso; 12.0% for Superiore

However, it’s important to know that DOC is not a certification of quality, but only of area and procedure.

That’s where DOCG, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, comes in. Not only must these wines follow geographic and production standards, they must be approved by government tasters as meeting quality standards. These are the wines you see with the numbered label attached to the neck of the bottle. Marche has 5 DOCGs.

The other classified group is IGT, Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This is the most general classification, meaning the wine is produced in a way typical for the region. Marche has 1 IGT.

That makes IGT sound like average wine, but it’s not. One of the reason the classification was to allow designations like Super Tuscan, which is quality wine but doesn’t quite fit the DOC/DOCG system, for reason like blends or non-indigenous grape varieties.

Some other important terms you will hear that are combined with these classifications, which apply to some classifications but not all:

  • Classico: produced in the historically significant zone within the classification. (Only 2 Marche wines have this.)
  • Superiore: 0.5% higher alcohol; uses grapes grown in vineyards with a lower density of vines per hectare. (Just 1 Marche wine)
  • Riserva: has longer aging requirements (2 of these, but both are separate DOCGs.)

Federdoc, a consortium of Italian wine producers, has a very nice map and chart of Marche’s wines.

Based on data from, I put together a table of all the classified wines from Marche, showing production and principal varieties used. The two major ones are Verdicchio (white) and Montepulciano (red):

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R: Red, Ro: Rosata, W: White, S: Sparkling, D: Dessert

Grape image: Pixabay CC0 - No attribution required |

Concrete Above and Below Column and Marciapiede Work

Today, a lot of concrete got poured, first for the top floor columns and then for the marciapiede (sidewalk) surrounding the house.

Column and Sidewalk Concrete Work
Column and Sidewalk Concrete Work
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In today’s photos, you can see the concrete forms for the sidewalk being completed and the pouring and smoothing of the concrete.

All images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

A House in a Hole? Preliminary Grading Finished, Marciapiede Work Started

The first pass at the land grading has been completed. There is likely more work to be done, but Kevin wants to hold off until we are on site in May.

One picture from today gave me pause: it shows the south side of the house, that near the master bathroom and study and the grade that surrounds it. It makes that side of the house look like it’s in a hole.

Grading around new house in Le Marche
South Side and Graded Earth
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I asked Kevin what we might do to address this issue. I brought up the idea of trying to buy more land on that side to give us room to make the slope more gradual.

He responded that the slope isn’t quite as severe as the picture shows. Plus, while buying more land might be possible, he felt we could negotiate better if we were on site.

The other land shaping issue we’ll need to address is behind the house and whether we have enough room on the terrace on which the house sits.

Edge of terrace down to the pool
Edge of House Terrace Down Toward Pool
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Also, work has begun on the marciapiede, the sidewalk that surrounds the house. This is tied into the house structure and serves to keep moisture away from the base of the wall. Plus, it’s a typical feature of houses in Le Marche.

Sidewalk Underlayment Covered with Gravel
Sidewalk Underlayment Covered with Gravel
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The album of all of today’s pictures shows more work on the forms for the marciapiede.

All images: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure