Il diavolo al carnevale di Maniglia

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When I see a mask, I always think about the splendours of Carnival: it’s so amusing to get the chance to wear weird style clothes, the crazy colours of an Harlequin or the costume of your favourite hero. But behind a mask you can also conceal your face and your intentions. Behind a disguise you can hide your identity, just like in the legend I’m telling you.

One night, some youngsters from Maniglia, near Perrero, in Germanasca valley, were fully dressed for the Carnival: someone wore funny adorments, some others was dressed like a woman, and everyone was joking and laughing, eagerly waiting in front of a barn. They were waiting for a friend of them, that, playing the flute, would have started the procession conducting them to the houses of the village to visit them, in particular the ones where they could find some nice girl. The procession began and the youngsters sang playful bawdy songs following the unsteady melody played by their friend, who wasn’t such a skilled musician.

At a certain point, they started to hear another sound from behind their backs: it was the melody of a clarinet played by a stranger who asked to join them. He was covered by a long black cloak and his face was hidden behind a mask, black as well. The man, who spoke Piedmontese with a foreign accent, started joking with them, showing somw humour. He was also a skilled clarinet player, and for a while he followed the parade with his instrument, cheering up the brigade. But suddendly, the songs started to be weirder and weirder. The melody started to chang repeatedly: before there was a mellow melody, then a quick rhythm, and so on. One of the young men, distressed by that music, asked him to play a more popular tune. When the song began, it was played in such a captivating way that the youngsters couldn’t resist and started to dance like madmen.

Then, during the breaks between the songs, the strange guest started to shout obscenities and unfitting jokes that took away from the guys the cheerfulness, so much that they decided to walk away from him and look at him from a small distance and talking between them. One of them, who was looking attentively to the strange man, looked to the ground and instantly turned pale: instead of the feet, he saw two forked hooves popping out from the cloak! «It has hooves, he’s the Devil in person!», he shouted, and immediately his friends ran away in every direction, obstructed by their adornments and skirts. Behind their backs a diabolic laugh reverberated: the Devil was really enjoying the scene! When the stampede calmed down, the Devil disappeared in the darkness returning to the woods.

I’ve already recounted you some legends related to the Devil and set right here in this area. Sometimes, just like in this tale, he loves to make some tricks and fool people, but in other stories someone, with a dose of slyness, can beat him. And what about you? Have you ever notices tracks of the Devil near here? Are you sure that the footprints you saw on the trail belonged to a goat?

How to get here
From Pinerolo go towards the Val Chisone following the directions to Perosa Argentina. When you arrive there follow the directions to Perrero.
Overtake the centre of Perrero following the Strada provinciale 169. Before crossing the bridge you’ll see a road climbing up on the right with the directions to Maniglia. Take that road and follow it for 3kms until you get the Baissa hamlet.

Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?