This paper reports the results of several on-site investigations carried out by the authors in the last 20 years in central Italy (Umbria, Marche, Emilia and Abruzzo regions) on masonry wall panels. The use of stone and brickwork masonry has been common for centuries not only for rural residences but also for public and religious buildings. In many areas, where the stone was abundant, stone became the material of choice for all constructions. However from rubble stone to perfectly squared stones, the mechanical properties may highly differ. Test results are reported with an accurate survey and analysis of the masonry typology and mechanical characterization was performed according to ASTM standards and consisted of measurements of shear properties. The paper also reports the experimental results of full-scale tests conducted on brickwork walls using different bonding patterns, mortar types and brick dimensions. These data were recorded in terms of shear strength, elastic properties and deformation capacity and are of critical importance for design, reinforcement or retrofit purposes in earthquake-prone areas. All tests were conducted on site from pre-existing undamaged wall panels. Finally, test results are compared with existing standards and indicate that masonry shear strength is sometimes overestimated by the Italian Building Code.