Today we are in high Pellice Valley, and more precisely at the Wide Valley of Pra (Conca del Pra), in the town of Bobbio Pellice: right here the most famous legend of the whole valley took place.
Click play to listen to the song of the fairy of the Pra!
It is said that once this valley (nowadays crossed by the Pellice river, which here is just a little river, but in the plain it becomes a tributary of the Po river), was actually a deep and clear mountain lake.
The beautiful stretch of water was the home of the fairies of the Pra, who jealously took care of that magical place.
The shepherds of the valley were always looking for new grazings for their cattle, and one day some of them arrived here… A great sight appeared in front of them: the shores of the lake were very green and their animals could eat that nourishing grass and give such a good and healthy milk. The men then decided to let their herds graze there.
In the silence of the valley only the rhythmic sound of the bells of the cows could be heard and, somewhen, a light melody, at the same time sweet but sad and heart-breaking could be felt… That was the fairies’ singing, and men filled their ears with that sweet music, thinking how nice it would be to meet them.
The fairies, on the other hand, were not happy at all. They had hidden that fabulous place for a long time and now that humans had discovered it they did not expect anything good… after all, men always ruined everything they encountered on their journey …
The fairies met many times in the rocks where they used to live, to decide what to do.
Only one of them did not take part in the discussions. She was the fairy who lived on the highest rock, and she had carefully observed the men from there. It was undeniable that where shepherds grazed their animals the land remained depleted, dirty, with no flowers and no healing herbs… But she was fully convinced that those men did not have an evil intention.
…maybe the pretty fairy thought that way ‘cause she had fallen in love with one of those shepherds, and she used to spend the whole day with him!
One evening, in the end, the fairies’ council took a decision: in three days they would abandon the lake Pra forever, but first they would have caused an overflow, so that no one could ever benefit of that treasure any more.
The beautiful fairy ran as quickly as she could to her beloved shepherd to warn him; in the same way the young shepherd ran at breakneck speed down the mountain slopes to arrive in the country and raise the alarm. From Bobbio throughout all of the hamlets of the Valley the alarm was spread.
The day of the fairies’ departure, even though they were still angry with men, they went down gliding across the valley, singing a terrible song and shouting: “Scapà, scapà, lou laous dar Pra è quërpa!” (run away, run away, the lake Pra cracked).
In fact a portion of the cliffs that surrounded the lake had collapsed and the water was climbing down with violence throughout the valley. Thanks to the fairies’ warning the few people who still had not moved to the heights ran away, they reached a safe place and no one died in the catastrophe.
The fairies left and never turned back, leaving the Pra as a grassland with no water, overlooking the valley. The rock that used to keep the lake closed rolled together with the water to the plains, and we can still see it today, because it is nothing but the Rock of Cavour!
…but the young fairy in love did not follow her mates… She stood there, high up on her rock, waiting for her beloved shepherd, who returned to the Pra after the fury of the waters had completely calmed down. The fairy gave up with her supernatural gift in order to stay with her sweetheart, but the price to pay was that no other human should ever see her. The two happily spent three years in the cave of the fairy, till when, one day, some hunters entered the cave looking for some animals to chase… As soon as their eyes fell on the fairy, she died. After a few days the young shepherd, who could not live without his beloved girl, died of sadness as well…
How to get here:
reach the town of Bobbio Pellice (Turin) through the Provincial Road 161 from Torino / Pinerolo. Continue towards the bottom of the valley in the direction of Villanova, taking the homonymous street, for 13 km until the parking in which to leave the car. From the Villanova hamlet you can reach the Wide Valley of Pra – “Conca del Pra” – on foot or by car (in this case, paying a toll and respecting hours for the ascent and descent).
The song “Fata del Pra” was sung by Davide Simond.
Thank you Davide!
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?