The legend I’m going to tell you today is set in Guichard valley, a secondary combe in Pellice valley, ascending to Bobbio Pellice, today known as Carbonier valley.
Rumour has it that once upon a time, in the middle of the Berna wood, in Guichard valley, lived a sort of hermit, short and hairy, strong like twenty men. He was quite moody, and he didn’t talk to anybody. That’s why he was called Lou Sarvagge, “the savage”. It’s also told that he was a sorcerer, and that after that uncouth look was concealed a great witness, and, above all, the secrets of the art of dairy farming, totally unknown to the locals. For these reasons, the authorities put a reward for him, and a lot of people tried to catch him, without success.
The Savage went out very rarely from his cavern, but at a certain point he started to leave his shelter every night. His rough heart was beating for a local girl, and every day at sunset he went under her window to look at her while she was spinning. Discovered the reason of his actions, the men who wanted to capture him decided to seize the occasion to cheat him.
A night, they put a dummy, dressed with the girl’s gowns, in place of her, and they hid waiting for him. When the hermit arrived, he immediately noticed the prank, and said:
“Fila, Filera – L’é pâ quëlla ‘d l’aouta sera
Toulossia, boulossia – Jamai ta fuzà venëré grossa.”
“Spin, spinner. She’s not the same of the other nights.
Turn, scale, your spindle will never grow.”
With his incredible strenght he could have taught a lesson to his persecutors, but, given that he was a good man, he went away and never came back to the house of his beloved.
However, the men didn’t want to give up on the reward and on the knowledge of the Savage, and so they looked for the help of an old woman. She was competent in witchcraft, and she was also as strange as the Savage, but she didn’t use to live as an hermit. On the contrary, she loved to stay together with the locals, and so she was more appreciated. The witch gave to the men a pair of shoes, and told them to leave it as a present in front of the Sarvagge cavern. They did it, and lied in wait near the entrance of the shelter. The hermit didn’t have shoes, and so when he saw them he wore them gladly. Nevertheless, because he never had a pair of shoes, he forgot to unstrap the shoelaces and at the first step he fell down. That was the occasion long–awaited by the men, that immediately came out from the bushes and captured him. At that point, the startled Saved exclaimed:
“L’e pa vostra malissia – Que m’a fa saillir dar përtus
Ma vous avé carc facëndé – Que m’an fa përne da voû”
“It’s not because of your slyness that you forced me to go out from my cave
but you had some accomplice who helped you to catch me!”
The poor Savage got trapped in a room with a big bucket of milk and some tools. After a while, because he was getting bored, started to work the milk. From cream he made butter, and from curd he made cheese. Warming up the remaining liquid he produced buttermilk. In particular, this last process was totally unknown to the locals, and for that they immediately started to mill around to have a better vision through the keyhole. But nudges and jostles, jabs and kicks, caused the door to open wide, and the men burst into the room.
And so, the hermit told them:
“S’ou m’aguësse ënca lîsà
Mel e cira ourìou ënca ciavà
De moun breu de lîtà”.
“If you had left me (to do),
honey and wax I would have produced
from my buttermilk”.
Then, because he absolutely didn’t want to be consigned to give to the locals his reward, he ran away from the door that the careless men opened wide.
Since that episode, nobody saw him again. Maybe he decided to hide in a even more isolated place, and with him also the precious secret on how to produce honey and wax from buttermilk is hidden forever.
How to get here
From Pinerolo take the Strada Provinciale 161 to the Val Pellice. Pass through Villar Pellice and then go straight on the road to Bobbio Pellice. A few before the town of Bobbio Pellice, turn left following the directions to Barbara Lowrie – Valle dei Carbonieri. After a group of houses called La Perlà and after a sharp turn you’ll see Val Guichard, today known as “Valle dei Carbonieri”. You will find the the Berna wood, where, according to the legend, lived the Savage, on your right.
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?