Coulege dei Barba – Angrogna

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Ciao!
Aren’t you wondering where our hanging around Waldensian valleys wil bring us today?
Well, let’s go find out together!

The houses that once hosted the school of Barba
The houses that once hosted the school of Barba

Today we are in Pradeltorno, a place that, time ago, could be reached from the valley floor only walking through a very narrow mule track.
This well hidden site used to be a perfect refuge for Waldensians during the painful period of religious persecutions and, moreover, it would also be an important place for meditation and education.
What you can see in this picture is the school of “Barba”, better known as “Coulege dei Barba”.
…hey, you look puzzled… Oh, I got it! You don’t know who a  “Barba” is, do you?!

The entrance to the Coulege
The entrance to the Coulege

Ok, I’ll explain: in Romance language (which is the language French comes from, and that was spoken also in these valleys) “Barba” means “uncle”… in Piedmontese dialect, as well, we use to call our uncles “Barba”!
“Barba” of the past were really brave people: in 1400, long before America was discovered,  they used to travel in groups of two across Italy and Europe, pretending to be merchants or pilgrims.
Why did they do this? Good question!

The doorway of the Coulege
The doorway of the Coulege

They were “colporteurs”, which means that they used to go and visit groups of worshipers, house-to-house, in order to bring ‘em Protestant Bibles written in languages other than Latin.
Earlier Bibles were written in German, while in these valleys people needed to have Bibles written in French, because that was the main language spoken among people who lived here.
At that time it was forbidden to have a Bible not written in latin, and if in a house a non-latin Bible was found, the whole family could risk arrest .

The landscape of the Angrogna Valley seen from a window of the “Coulege dei Barba”
The landscape of the Angrogna Valley seen from a window of the “Coulege dei Barba”

…think of what could have happened if “Barba” had been caught with their bags filled with translated Bibles! That’s why they had to travel disguised… in order not to be caught!
“Barba” were educated people, they could read (at that time only very few people were able to do it, because there were no schools for children like we have today) and they learned to do it here at the Coulege, where they practiced reading the Bible.

How to get here:
reach Pradeltorno (district of Angrogna) coming from Torre Pellice and, once you leave the Provincial Street 161 entering the town, take Generale Martinat Street right before the bridge on Angrogna creek. Go through the whole street and you’ll reach the hamlet known as Chiot dl’Aiga, then take the road on your left (Pradeltorno Street) that takes to the valley bottom. Once in Pradeltorno, park your car and walk along the street between the cemetery and the Waldensian temple. Climb up to Coulege following the wood panels.

Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?