Today I’m going to tell you why the inhabitants of San Germano Chisone, a small town in Val Chisone, are named “babi”, which means “toad”. You know, I’m familiar with a lot of legends, and precisely a legend explains the origin of this nickname. It’s told that in Pomeano, in the district of Pramollo, a small town just above San Germano, lived some very capable farmers.
All the fruits and vegetables who cultivated grew beautifully, tasty and big, unbelievably big. You could’t find in the whole valley apples, carrots or squashes which could compete with the ones harvested by the Pomeano farmers.
A day, while they were picking up turnips, they saw that one of them, which seemed particularly big, didn’t want to come out from soil, no matter the effort. And so, they started to dig all around with a shovel to bare its roots. But at that point they had a stunning surprise!
The turnip, which seemed indeed big, was actually gigantic! It was so big that not even ten men could succeed in pulling it out. At that point there was only a solution: use strong-arm tactics to pull that root out from the soil, and they decided to use no less than… a mine! The explosion was thunderous, but the result wasn’t the expected one. The turnip, indeed, blew up into a thousand pieces.
One of these, an enormous one, fell into the Malanaggio hollow, just where the Chisone creek flows, just below San Germano. This piece of vegetable fallen out of the sky worked as a dam interrupting the flow of the river and created a puddle which broaden until it inundated San Germano. The town became a true “babiera”, that is a marsh populated by toads and frogs, and so the inhabitants got their nickname of “babi”.
This legend is so appreciated by the locals that into the emblem of the town there are two little toads.
Did you know this story?
How to get here
From Pinerolo go towards Val Chisone taking Via Nazionale. Turn left on the bridge which crosses Chisone river. Turn right after the bridge on the Strada Provinciale 166, then go straight for more or less 5 kilometers and you’ll arrive to San Germano Chisone. This road allows you to drive through the inverse of Porte; this is not the shortest way, but it’s surrounded by nature and it’s my favourite one!
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?