Today I’m recounting you a legend, set in Val Germanasca, talking about fairies, magic and metamorphosis. I’m taking you at Nido dell’Orso (The Bear’s Nest), a small group of houses located at 1.650m of altitude, over the Indritti hamlet in Prali.
It’s told that once here lived a family with two daughters who had opposite disposition. One was moody, crabby and slacker, and the other was gentle, willing and loved by everybody. With the excuse of working in open air, the first used to spend all her days lying in the nice meadows near the houses, enjoying the scent of the thyme, the pounding of the creek and the chirping of the birds. The other one, on the contrary, used to deal with all the housework without any complaint. One of her duties was the milking of the cows, which was carried on singing happily.
One day, just as she was in the barn, a black kitten went in and started to purr, to brush him on her legs and to meow insistently. The girl, who had a good hearth, pet it and gave it some milk. Right after the kitten had enjoyed the milk until the last drop, he started to move the little bowl hitting it with the paw. At every bump, in front of the amazed girl, the bowl became heavier because, magically, a new silver coined appeared. The girl thanked the kitten, which had already jumped out from the barn, and picked up the wad. From that day the scene happened again and again, and so the girl, who had continued to keep her wad secret, started to buy new clothes and all the other nice things who she had always desired.
The slacker sister was very annoyed: how the hell could her sister to buy all that beautiful things? And so she decided to spy her following her in all the daily activities. When the moment of the milking came, she saw a black kitten entering in the barn and watched the sister pick up silver coins from a small bowl on the ground. Resolved to go deeper in this mistery, she asked to exchange job with the sister in order to go in the barn. The following day, while she was milking lazily and complaining, she saw the black kitten entering by the door, approaching and purring, but she was an heartless person, kicked it away and shouted it «Devil cat!»
The kitten went out and stepped for a while outside the barn looking the bad girl. But then, something incredible happened: the kitten transformed in a beautiful lady with a stunning silk dress with a large crinoline. And then, unconcerned by the scared girl, with an imperious gesture created a wide crack in the earth, ran away and never came back. You will notice that near the houses there’s a depression: coudn’t it be the one created by the fairy?
In this story there is a typical topic of the legends of the Waldensian Valleys: the departure of the fairies. In the story I’ve told you, sometimes the fairies are bad and sometimes good, capable of taking pity for the human affairs. If you’re so lucky to meet a fantina, treat her with respect: she’s a sensitive creature and after the first prank you’ll lose her friendship forever!
How to get here
From the square of Ghigo di Prali, with the Waldensian temple on your right, look in front of you and cross the bridge you see, then turn right. Follow the main road and after a couple or hairpin turns you’ll have to leave your car and walk to the Indritti hamlet. Here there’s a nice fountain where you can fill your bottle. Leaving the fountain behind you, take the trail that climbs up between the houses and follow the directions. Walking on the less steep path you’ll cross a green wood and in 20 minutes you’ll reach Nido dell’Orso.
Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?