THE MILL OF VERAGHI

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It 's the first of the mills in the town of Molina and the only original one still working in Valpolicella, grinding the cereals on stone just as in the 17th century, nestled in a natural setting of extraordinary beauty and surrounded by pleasant sounds, characteristic fragrances and flavours of times past in a friendly and peaceful environment. Here time passes slowly, encouraging you to concentrate on your inner and outer feelings.

 

Come with us to this place, and relive the tastes, the fragrances and the sounds that have been lingering here for ages.

 

 

 

Ambiente e Storia

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The small medieval town of Molina, in the municipality of Fumane (province of Verona), has developed around a system of natural springs. In the surrounding typical foothill landscape the presence of man integrates and merges with the natural environment .

 

It is in this context that the Veraghi mill is still working, testimony to an ancient rural economy based on the milling of cereals from western Valpolicella and the Lessini hills. The building was part of a system of 17 mills, built one after the other along the vajo, the local name for the deep, narrow valley which has a stream running along the bottom. The springs are located upstream of the town. The mills worked thanks to a perennial flow of water, transforming hydraulic energy into mechanical energy by means of a large wheel with paddles or buckets outside the building, and a set of gears and cogs that transferred the motion to the grindstones placed inside the structure.

 

Originally there was a Veraghi mill in another location, which started to work at the end of the 17th century. Its present location dates back to around 1880, when the Zivelonghi sisters, nicknamed farinelle, from farina - flour - sold this building to Santo Sega, already the owner of a mill south of the village. He thus enlarged this building and installed two sets of grinding mechanisms (for milling various types of cereals), using parts from other disused mills. The mill ground different types of grains for human consumption and for animal meal: wheat, corn, barley, millet, buckwheat, sorghum and others. From 200 to 1000 kilos of cereal were ground per day, depending on the flow of water (which varied seasonally), yielding 65-85 kilos of flour every 100 kilos of grain, based on the quality required by and the needs of the customer (those who had little grain preferred wholemeal flour); payment to the miller was sometimes a part of the flour or small wheel of cheese.

 

Santo was followed by his son Stefano, then by his grandchildren Angelo and Vittorio and finally by his great-grandchildren Stefano and Massimo, until milling wheat for human consumption ceased in 1953 and then milling corn for livestock ceased in 1970.

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LA RUOTA
The big waterwheel has a diameter of 6 and a half meters. Its spokes are of larch and the buckets are iron. Water from the upstream Veraghi spring is conveyed to the wheel along a channel, called a millrace, that has an iron tray hinged to its end, just above the wheel. A system of cables, pulleys and chains allows the water flow to be directed either into the buckets or to the side of the wheel. A horizontal axle - the watershaft - of steel and oak supports the wheel and is connected to the gearing mechanism inside the building.

 

IL LOCALE DI MOLITURA

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The room which houses the machinery measures 6.80 by 5.30 meters. It is spanned by a segmental arch that bears the weight of the whole building. On the north-east wall, behind the waterwheel, is the set of gears that drives the runner stone and other accessories, such as the flourdresser, the small whetstone for sharpening blades and the pestle for husking grain. On the other three walls, or placed against them, are all the tools and equipment used by the miller: sifts, hammers and chisels, containers of various shapes and sizes and materials, trestles and tripods.

 

CASTELLO DEGLI INGRANAGGI

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The waterwheel drives the horizontal watershaft which transmits the motion inside the building to an ingenious and functional system of gears. On the other end of the watershaft the pit wheel is mounted. This is a toothed wheel with a diameter of 1.57 meters of oak and walnut with dogwood teeth, bound in iron. This gear meshes with another wheel, positioned orthogonally, called a wallower, with a transmission ratio of 1 to 3. Rotating together with the wallower is a larger wheel - the great spur wheel - with a diameter of 1.50 meters, which drives the runner stone (the upper millstone) by means of a spindle, an iron pole with a square section connected to the rotating upper grinding wheel. On the pit wheel gearing for other power transmission is inserted, such as for the flour dresser, the whetstone and the pestle.

 

IL PALMENTO

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Above the gearing system the millstones are placed on a basement of poplar and larch in which a space for the lower, fixed bedstone has been hollowed. The iron spindle passes through the bottom stone and supports the rotating runner stone above. The upper grinding stone is encircled by a band of beech wood, designed to contain the grain and convey it to the flour dresser. Laterally to the basement is a crank for adjusting the distance between the grinding wheels.

 Two hoppers above the grind stones contain the grains, which are shaken into the shoe and then fall into the hole (eye) in the centre of the runner stone. The flow can be adjusted by tilting the shoe. To avoid the mill functioning even when there is nothing to be ground, a small wooden board is placed inside the hopper, tending a cable connected to the outdoor tray hinged to the millrace that conveys the water to the wheel. When the level of grain decreases, the board is no longer weighted down by the cereal, thus the tray moves and lets the water fall to the side of the wheel.

 

IL SETACCIO, IL PESTELLO E LA MOLA PER AFFILARE

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The ground corn is conveyed to the flour dresser to be sorted according to size. The flour dresser is a tilted cylinder with a wooden frame covered with fabric mesh with openings of a gradually increasing size. The ground cereal enters the flour dresser at the end with the finer meshes and flows downwards to the other end, where the coarse particles that did not pass through the mesh fall out and are collected in a small wooden crate. The circular movement of the flour dresser is provided by a pin connected directly to the pit wheel.

 

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 The pestle, in fact a heavy mallet, is used to remove the chaff from the wheat kernel, or to separate the grains of corn from the stalk. The grain is put in a big stone mortar. The pestle is connected, by means of a pole and a chain, to a lever that is operated by the pit wheel: at every turn of the wheel the mallet pounds the grain three times. It’s possible to regulate the force of the impact by shortening or lengthening the chain.

 

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 Millstones should be periodically dressed in order to restore the damaged furrows and lands. This is done with special hammers and chisels which are sharpened on the whetstone, connected directly to the pit wheel by a shaft.

 

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