HomeInternationalCoumboscuro: The Italian village that doesn't speak Italian

Coumboscuro: The Italian village that doesn’t speak Italian

(CNN) — Nicknamed Italy’s “Little Provence,” Sancto Lucio de Coumboscuro is an remoted village in nearly each sense.

Situated close to the border between the Piedmont area of Italy and France, guests both have to fly to Turin, and take a practice after which a bus, or drive south from Provence to be able to attain it.

Those who do make the journey right here can be forgiven for questioning in the event that they’re in the suitable nation, notably when locals bid them goodbye with the unfamiliar “arveire” somewhat than “arrivederci.”

The official language of Coumboscuro is Provençal, an historic medieval neo-Latin dialect of Occitan, the language spoken throughout the Occitania area of France.

Only round 30 or so individuals dwell within the village, and life is much from simple for locals. Coumboscuro is essentially made up of shepherding households, who regularly discover their herds underneath assault from the wolves who roam right here.

The electrical energy is commonly out for weeks through the winter time, whereas the web connection right here is minimal.

But the village’s quiet, mountain meadows and vivid purple lavender fields are perfect for guests searching for an unplugged retreat, as are the breathtaking views from its Alpine peaks, which stretch to the Cote d’Azur.

Forget bars, supermarkets and eating places, any social buzz is proscribed to the occasional folklore occasions that happen within the village, or when day trippers embark on solitary weekend mushroom hunts.

Slower-paced life-style

Shepherdess Agnes Garrone is one of a small number of residents of the Italian village of Coumboscuro.

Shepherdess Agnes Garrone is certainly one of a small variety of residents of the Italian village of Coumboscuro.

Agnes Garrone

Locals embrace a slower-paced, easy life-style in concord with nature.

“We don’t have a TV. You don’t really miss what you’ve never had in the first place. When there’s a power outage for 15 days in a row, there’s no reason to panic: we dig out our grandparents’ old oil lamps,” native shepherdess Agnes Garrone, 25, tells CNN Travel.

“I’m used to waking up at dawn to tend the sheep. I work 365 days per year, zero holidays. I know no Christmas nor New Year’s Eve, because even during festivities, my herds need to eat and be looked after.

“It’s a lifetime of sacrifice however it’s so rewarding once you see the start of a lamb.”

Garrone runs La Meiro di Choco, an old farm that happens to be the only B&B in Coumboscuro.

Those who book in get to bed down in traditional wooden huts sample fresh produce from the orchard and have the option to buy premium wool of an indigenous Italian sheep called Sambucana, also known as Demontina.

While many of the village’s younger residents fled in search of a brighter future elsewhere many years ago, Garrone and her brothers decided to stay and work on their ancestors’ land.

Their mother grows cannabis and other herbs for medicinal purposes, and makes syrups from elder leaves and dandelions.

Cultural revival

Festivals and folk lore parades celebrating Provençal traditions are often held in the village.

Festivals and folks lore parades celebrating Provençal traditions are sometimes held within the village.

Coumboscuro Centre Prouvençal

“Visitors are welcome to return stick with us, we’d like individuals to find our world, we do not wish to be forgotten and we’ve got a lot heritage to share,” says Garrone.

The 25-year-old considers Provençal, which is often characterized as something of a mix between French and Italian, to be her mother tongue rather than Italian.

She explains that being a part of a socio-cultural and linguistic community that hails back centuries provides her with a strong sense of identity and territorial belonging.

The area of the Piedmont region where Coumboscuro is located passed between Italian and French rule several times in history, which goes some way to explain while locals like Garrone feel neither Italian nor French – simply Provençal.

Surrounded by forests of hazelnut and ash trees, it’s divided into 21 minuscule hamlets scattered across the pristine Valle Grana, each made of just a handful of stone and wooden dwellings.

The districts are connected by trekking, mountain bike and horseback riding trails dotted with land art installations.

Its main district, which consists of just eight picturesque wooden cottages with frescoed walls clustered around an old chapel, was founded in 1018 by French monks who recovered the lands for rural use.

Although Coumboscuro flourished for many years, things began to change in the 1400s, when harsh winters saw many families move to Provence for much of the year and only return during the summer.

The village’s population has dwindled for many years, but Coumboscuro underwent something of a revival in the 1950s when Garrone’s grandfather, Sergio Arneodo, took over as the village school teacher.

After studying the ancestral local tongue, he helped to recover the linguistic roots and folklore appeal of the Provençal language, providing the community with a much-needed boost.

Spiritual pilgrimage

Roumiage, a religious pilgrimage  from Provence to Coumboscuro, is held right here yearly.

Roumiage, a spiritual pilgrimage from Provence to Coumboscuro, is held here every year.

Coumboscuro Centre Prouvençal

Today, whether it’s a play featuring actors in traditional costumes, art shows, concerts, festivals, folk dances, dialectal contests, writing labs or even artisan shops, there are many different activities and events that celebrate Provençal traditions.

Those interested in learning more can visit the Coumboscuro Ethnographic Museum, while the center for Provençal studies holds Provençal language and writing courses for adult beginners as well as children.

Each July, thousands of Provençal-speakers dressed in traditional attire embark on the Roumiage, a spiritual pilgrimage departing from Provence in south France along the Alps to Coumboscuro.

The journey takes them across snowy peaks, steep canyons and chestnut forests, the same route previously traveled by their ancestors, as well as medieval traders, outlaws and cross-Alpine smugglers over the years.

Once they arrive in Coumboscuro, the pilgrims are greeted by a huge festival, with tents and barns set up as temporary accommodation.

Although population decline has continued to plague the village, its residents, now more aware of their roots, have developed a primeval attachment to their hometown. Today, many view Coumboscuro as a cradle of the Provençal microcosm.

Endangered language

School teacher Sergio Arneodo helped to recover the linguistic roots of the Provençal language during the 1950s.

School trainer Sergio Arneodo helped to get better the linguistic roots of the Provençal language through the Fifties.

Coumboscuro Centre Prouvençal

“Following the cultural revival, carpentry outlets now promote conventional Provençal artisan items and farms have flourished once more, rising potatoes, apple cider, chestnuts and making natural drinks,” says Davide Arnoedo, who runs the Coumboscuro Ethnographic Museum and the center for Provençal studies.

“Scholars, intellectuals and artists collect right here for artwork exhibitions and conferences to debate our wealthy heritage.”

Following awareness campaigns by the local community, Italy officially recognized the existence of the Occitan minority in 1999, and Provençal is now protected by national law.

“This is among the few valleys on this planet the place our tongue survives,” adds Arneodo, who is also Garrone’s uncle, as well as the son of Sergio Arneodo.

“In the previous it was a lyrical, literary language spoken by roaming court docket minstrels which then fell into oblivion however right here, because of my dad’s efforts, youth recovered their ancestors’ heritage and plenty of determined to remain.”

Rich heritage

Residents are extraordinarily happy with their heritage and have a robust attachment to their hometown.

Residents are extremely proud of their heritage and have a strong attachment to their hometown.

Coumboscuro Centre Prouvençal

Witches and shamans play a huge role in the Provençal world, as does great Alpine food, and there’s definitely a magical vibe to Coumboscuro.

In fact, legend has it that a number of locals were gifted with the power to heal broken bones and twisted ankles.

Some even believe the woods are inhabited by fairies and fauns called Sarvan, who are not only said to have taught locals how to make butter as well as Toma and Castelmagno cheese, but apparently also play jokes on the farmers by stealing their fresh milk and bags full of nuts.

Each year, Coumboscuro holds the Boucoun de Saber, or “morsels of information,” a popular food fair that showcases key Alpine delicacies of Provençal origin.

As for local cuisine, some traditional recipes include La Mato, or “the loopy one,” consisting of rice, spices and leeks, in addition to bodi en balo smoked potatoes, which is heated within the fire in an historic ritual.

Aioli, a Mediterranean garlic-based sauce, is common as an accompaniment to traditional dishes. Dandeirols — a do-it-yourself maccheroni served with whip cream and nuts — are one other stand out.

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