Today I’m bringing you with me back to the town of Rorà, in Pellice Valley, in order to tell you the story of an ancient building (…and of the people who used to live there, of course!): we are today in front of what is known as Durand-Canton House, one of the oldest houses of the whole country and which is now abandoned. This house is special because right here in 1706 the Duke Vittorio Amedeo II found refuge: at that time the city of Turin was besieged by the French army and the governor had to flee in order not to fall into the hands of the enemy. Although Waldensians did not yet have civil liberty (which was then granted only in 1848 with the Patent Letters), the Duke found hospitality in the Valleys and hid for three days here, at the home of the former mayor of Rorà, Antonio Durand-Canton who – among other things – was also one of the survivors of the exile of 1687!
After three days the Duke could finally return to the city, but in gratitude he gave the family his cutlery (a cup and a silver spoon) and, above all, he gave permission to the family to bury their dead in the backyard, which was an exceptional favor since at that time Waldensians had to follow very strict rules on that (we talked about it visiting the Jallà Cemetery in Luserna San Giovanni, d’you remember?).
But, as it often happens in the Valleys, in an instant history mixes with fantasy and other curious facts are told about the Durand-Canton family…
According to a legend of the place, it was told that in the cellar of the house there would be a mysterious source from which gold flakes would ooze together with fresh mountain water, and which would be collected in a bowl left there on purpose. This would have explained the riches (and the envy aroused!) of the family… It is said that when Jean Henri, descendant of the family, was arrested for taking part in a brawl at the market of Luserna, the only way to get him back to freedom would have been to pay a quantity of gold equal to that of his weight… The father soon went to prison with the necessary gold but a few ounces were still missing and the guards were not willing to turn a blind eye. Jean Henri then tore the buttons of his jacket and threw them on the scale reaching the right weight. The guards asked him what it meant and the man unpinned the lining of the buttons: there were actually gold coins inside!
How to get here:
leave Luserna San Giovanni and take the Provincial Road 162 towards Rorà. Follow the directions that will take you to the village. Once you are there, you just have to turn your back to the Catholic church and look up: Durand-Canton House is the one on the left on the path, not restored and with a big wooden door.