Cestel – Bobbio Pellice

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Hi there!
Today I am about to tell you a story in which history and legend mix up together. Unfortunately – I have to warn you from the very beginning – this story does not have a happy ending…

View of Bobbio Pellice
View of Bobbio Pellice

We are just past the small town of Bobbio Pellice, in a little hamlet known as Cestel (or Ciëstel, according to some old sources). Probably this name would remind you of the word “castle”… well, actually right here there was the castle belonging to Counts Bigliori, who were a cadet branch of the powerful Manfredi family from Luserna.
What you can see in this pic is the ruins of that castle… just a few stone walls on which plants grow thicker and thicker.

Trees growing on the ruins of the castle
Trees growing on the ruins of the castle

Some historical sources say that the castle was destroyed in 1549 by order of a French governor of Turin, while there are also other rumours that the destruction of the building came for other causes.

Remains of Counts Bigliori’s ancient castle
Remains of Counts Bigliori’s ancient castle

It is said that a long time ago the owner of the castle (Count Billour, according to legend) converted to Protestantism, while the rest of the family was devoted to Catholic Church of Rome. It is told that Count Billour used to join common people in the dungeons of the castle in order to listen to the Gospel as it was preached by “barba” (the Waldensian priests) and to participate in the cults that were held in secret there.
The Count’s family, however, had become suspicious, and one day some soldiers were sent to Bobbio Pellice with the task of arresting him and destroying his castle.
Count Billour’s sad destiny was to live imprisoned in the towers of Luserna’s castle, where he suffered from hunger, thirst, cold, and where he never got out again from.
The Count’s family decided to cancel this way the shame of a heretic relative… people who didn’t follow the Catholic religion were called “heretics” by the Chuch of Rome, and that was the way Waldensians were called.

I'm on the ground where Count Billour’s castle stood
I’m on the ground where Count Billour’s castle stood

What we can see of the castle today is just some remainings on the rock that falls straight into the small stream below (known as Gourg Inau), and the Count’s inheritance is nothing but a name in a legend… that was the price to pay for not following the most popular faith…

How to get here:
along the provincial road 161, go to the town of Bobbio Pellice (Turin). Follow via Villanova for 1.5 km and you will find yourself in Borgata Cestel.