27 August 2021
Villages and houses in the Engadine (Canton of Graubünden) can be recognised by the decorations on the house fronts.
The old technique is called Sgraffito (graffiti). Instead of painting with a brush, the decoration is done by scratching into the white lime plaster.
After being applied to the wall, this lime remains wet for about two hours. The scratching takes place within these two hours. After that, the lime becomes as hard as a stone, and the grooves remain. These are then usually grey, the material under the lime. They also colour the tracks.
As the name Sgraffito already suggests, this technique originates from Italy. The method developed in Florence and Rome during the Renaissance and spread throughout Italy. Italian master builders then introduced it to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, mainly to Graubünden and Engadin.
Perhaps the residents of this region, who had emigrated to Italy, took the technique with them when they returned to their villages. It is probably also the reason for depicting sea motifs, such as fish, mermaids and shells. The technique has not changed since the fifteenth century.
In the last thirty years, in particular, Sgraffito has been restored to its former glory in many villages in the Engadine, for example, in Zuoz, Guarda, Beaver, Ardez, Sent, and Scuol.