Accounts of rural life in the past describe a land-based economy that primarily revolved around using the available resources to meet vital needs (particularly food and heating). Human activities in the villages in the mountains and in the alpine and prealpine valleys were governed by the changing seasons.
In autumn, the men ploughed and fertilised the fields, while on short winter days they repaired agricultural equipment or carried out maintenance on carts and other vehicles. Throughout the year they also had to gather wood, which in certain cases was transformed into charcoal through the use of “charcoal kilns”.
As well as performing domestic chores such as cleaning, cooking, sewing and laundry, women also worked in the fields. They played an active part in grape harvests, growing hemp and linen, and breeding poultry, pigs, silkworms and sheep. Spinning wool (together with hemp and linen fibre) was a female job, especially during long winter evenings.