The determination of masonry mechanical features is one of the major problems to face when the safety level of existing constructions is evaluated, with the purpose to improve their structural performance. The seismic Italian code prescribes that the masonry mechanical characterisation must be defined on the basis of available data analysis, visual investigation and in-situ experimental tests. With reference to the most common masonry typologies, the code also provides ranges of both strength and elastic properties; these values are widely used in engineering practice, so it is essential to assess if experimental data match well with them. This paper provides a contribute for the critical comparison between standard values and field analysis data, achieved from tests performed within a widespread research activity on the Abruzzo architectural heritage, since the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. Specific diagnostic procedures, consisting in the application of standardised testing sets, have been developed, with the purpose of optimising the number of measures to reach the knowledge levels required by the Italian code. Data are discussed for some masonry typologies, comparing strength values obtained from quick survey forms, in situ experimental campaigns, and codified references. The work can represent a step towards the realisation of a database for the collection of experimental data related to the Abruzzo masonry patterns, aiming at a wider comparison between in situ test and standard values, also considering performance improvements subsequent to the reconstruction activity. © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, London.