Paroldo (Paròd in Piedmontese) is an Italian town of 212 inhabitants in the province of Cuneo, in Piedmont.
The beauty of this country is hidden in the simple constructions of the peasant faith scattered in places that in every season reveal a charm still intact. An intricate labyrinth of medieval alleys: it is Paroldo, the small Piedmontese village steeped in black magic.
Nestled in the high hills of the Langhe, about eighty kilometres southeast of Turin, this small village stands out for its unique (and disturbing) atmosphere. Here, among abandoned stone houses and characteristic chapels decorated with masks, live a group of shaman women who claim to have ancient healing powers.
“Masche”, the white witches of Paroldo
Masche, here they are called the “good white witches” who have the great ability to cure diseases, as well as to prepare tasty culinary delicacies. This was reported by Romano Salvetti, owner of the local Trattoria Trattetti, who told of his childhood spent with a mother with magical healing powers. Just in the building that houses the restaurant, once the home of the family, the woman used to treat sick people who went to ask for her help.
Today, after many years, Mr. Salvetti has become a “witch hunter”. Indeed, more a “collector”, to put it in a good way.
The aim of the Piedmontese restaurateur is in fact to find all the surviving Masche in the Upper Langhe, with the clear intent of putting them back in contact with each other and helping them to preserve the ancient magical traditions. Although the last witch died in the thirties, it is quite certain that there are still some around, in the alleys of Paroldo.
Salvetti is also one of the leading Masche experts in the area. According to reports, these Piedmontese witches were called to act when traditional medicine was unable to cure the patient. The church of Paroldo became the town’s healing place, where the evening bells rang at the end of a long day of “magical” treatments. In particular, the Masche seems to have had the gift of healing skin diseases (herpes, Saint Anthony’s fire and psoriasis …), handed down from woman to woman of the same family. Tradition has it that the older witch passes this gift on to her daughter or granddaughter with a simple touch, although some sort of training is also necessary. If there are no female heirs, then the power must be transferred to an inanimate animal or object.
And still today, this tradition of women curators seems to persist. The so-called “Masche grandmothers” hand down the healing ritual to the granddaughters, which involves praying while cutting the air with your fingers three times, creating a cross near the patient’s body, without touching it. And so, for hundreds of years now, the small village of Paroldo has kept this ritual with magical and healing power.