The Route of the Frescoes in Chiusa Pesio
Walking among Madonnas, prophecies and forgotten symbols
What it is and where it is
The sun envelops the landscape in a golden light, and at the foot of the Maritimes is Klausen, made of pointed steeples and imposing houses. The traveler's fingers unfold the map as in a treasure hunt, and images appear, framed by stucco edicolettes, or emerge from vanished outlines, as from a light mist. Madonnas in majesty, Madonnas of milk, Saints, whom someone had recommended.... Powerful saints, wise saints, to invoke prosperity and protection, Saints wounded by arrows or evil, that evil would pass over, without hurting.
Why it is special
Pictures tell the stories of places, from when History was only found in books, and reading was not for everyone. To look, yes, it was: that great procession of Saints and Blesseds and maternal Madonnas belonged to everyone, so much so that to pass by casting a glance at them was already almost a bit of praying, and from above, between ajar windows and attics, these figures protected from fear, from ignorance, from loneliness. Now I don't know how many people remember the families who had commissioned the frescoes anymore, but everyone remembers a piece of "their" sacred history, and this painted prayer is, still, everyone's heritage.
Not to be missed
Whoever arrives in the Pesio Valley remains enchanted by its majestic mountains, its forests and waterfalls, its testimonies of art and History... And by the incredible number of inns, trattorias, restaurants and agritourisms in which typical products are declined in a thousand interpretations, always turning out to be surprising. Mountain pasture cheeses, game, brook trout that have nothing to envy to salmon, and then chestnuts and small fruits... One would no longer want to get up from the table if not to see other wonders, one would no longer want to stop if not to find another table with other scents, other flavors!
A bit of history
Chiusa Pesio evokes walls and barrages in its name, and you can still see, on the rise overlooking the town, the ruins of what must have been an imposing castle: the Mirabello. In fact, the area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and this very place has given us back a deposit of ornaments and objects of daily use, which a prehistoric smelter had probably collected in a corner of his forge, in order to recast them. The history of Chiusa was later marked by the raids of the Moors, those fearsome Saracens who descended from their outposts in Provence to plunder the valleys of lower Piedmont. These battles left a bloody trail even in place names (Ardua, Mortè, Malmasel, meaning terrible slaughter, Prel, from the Latin "proelium," meaning battle). Not even the founding of the Charterhouse in 1173 ensured lasting peace, for until the 16th century there were rifts and quarrels between Chiusians and monks.
Among the many frescoes, one depicts a friar with an ecstatic expression, his gaze absorbed toward Heaven: this is Blessed Anthony Le Coq, a native of Valsusa but destined by his ascetic rigor to a life of contemplation far from the pomp and confusion of the cities. This did not prevent him from becoming spiritual adviser to Duchess Jolanda of Savoy, and from collecting in a book prophecies relating to the household of his protégée. After the death of Blessed Anthony, Charles VII of France came into possession of the book, and from here the news falls into mystery: some want the precious volume to have been lost during a battle, others claim that the king himself, shocked by the revelations, destroyed it... Some think that the book has always accompanied the Savoy lineage in great secrecy, and some deny that it ever left the Charterhouse.
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