Special – The Waldensian Valleys

Hi there!!!
We are at our last date together for this 2015… Time goes by very fast, doesn’t it?! D’you remember the first time we met in the summer of two years ago?
Today I will not take you around for any adventure, but I’d like to talk to you a little bit about the valleys we’ve been wandering through in these years… of course I’m talking about the Waldensian valleys, which are Pellice Valley, Germanasca Valley and Chisone Valley, the three major valleys of the province of Turin in Western Piedmont.

A map of the valleys (taken from AA.VV., Alpine civilization and Protestant presence in the valleys of Pinerolo, Priuli & Verlucca, Ivrea 1991).
A map of the valleys (taken from AA.VV., Alpine civilization and Protestant presence in the valleys of Pinerolo, Priuli & Verlucca, Ivrea 1991).

The Southern valley is the Pellice Valley, where the Pellice river flows; once this valley was known as Luserna Valley, taking name from the counts of Lucerne, who were its owners.
The village at the highest altitude is Bobbio Pellice, and coming down towards the plain we reach Villar Pellice and then Torre Pellice, called “the Waldensian capital”, since it’s the cultural Waldensian center and that’s the town where every year the Synod is hosted.

onca del Pra at Bobbio Pellice, along the mule tracks leading from Pinerolo to France
Conca del Pra at Bobbio Pellice, along the mule tracks leading from Pinerolo to France

Leaving the valley we reach the town of Luserna San Giovanni and two lateral valleys, where the rivers Angrogna (Angrogna Valley) and Luserna (Valley of Rorà) flow; in the plain we can find the hamlets of Bibiana, Bricherasio and Lusernetta.

The Gianavella, birthplace of the Waldensian hero Joshua Gianavello, is located in Luserna San Giovanni towards Rorà.
The Gianavella, birthplace of the Waldensian hero Joshua Gianavello, is located in Luserna San Giovanni towards Rorà.

The northernmost valley is the Chisone Valley, the only one of the three valleys that has an end, in the town of Sestriere, towards France. The hamlets that are traditionally considered part of the Waldensian valleys are located on the right bank of the river Chisone (which gives its name to the valley) and, moving from Pinerolo, they are San Germano Chisone and Pramollo, in the valley of Risagliardo, formerly known as Cluson (ancient name of the Chisone) Valley.

At Chaousenc, suburb of Pramollo, looking for fairies! I’ll explain you also the name of this place...
At Chaousenc, suburb of Pramollo, looking for fairies! I’ll explain you also the name of this place…

The Villages arising on the other side of the river were, in the past, part of the Dauphin of France, and this made them traditionally of Catholic influence; I’m talking about the towns of Villar Perosa, Pinasca, Inverso Pinasca, Perosa Argentina, Pomaretto, Fenestrelle, Usseaux, Pragelato and Sestriere; in ancient times the valley was called Pragelato Valley.

Here I am at the Hannibal Bridge, in the municipality of Pinasca.
Here I am at the Hannibal Bridge, in the municipality of Pinasca.

Among the Chisone and Pellice Valleys there’s the Germanasca Valley, which takes its name (like the other two valleys) from the river that flows through it, although it was once known as the San Martino Valley, named after a medieval place of worship dedicated to this saint.

On the banks of Germanasca, near the ruins of Bial dâ Diaou...
On the banks of Germanasca, near the ruins of Bial dâ Diaou

Since 1600 Perrero became the center of the valley, merging together many municipalities, except for those that are in high mountain: from north to south, Massello, Salza di Pinerolo and Prali, as well as some other side valleys (Bovile in the north, Faetto and Riclaretto in the south).

In the hamlet of Vrocchi di Bovile, visiting the museum dedicated to the deaconess Ida Bert.
In the hamlet of Vrocchi di Bovile, visiting the museum dedicated to the deaconess Ida Bert.

Pellice and Germanasca Valleys then wedge into the the town of Prarostino, located also at the entrance of the Chisone Valley (which once used to include also the Waldensian township of Roccapiatta).

A walk to Roca Ghiesa, ancient place of Waldensian worship in Prarostino
A walk to Roca Ghiesa, ancient place of Waldensian worship in Prarostino… Can you find me?

Well, I really hope you enjoyed this overview of the Waldensian valleys, with all of the links to our past adventures… and keep yourselves ready, ‘cause in 2016 we’ll visit together many other wonderful places!!!
As I wish you a very merry Christmas, tell me… which one of these two years’ stories you loved most?

Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?