A tale of... a particular itinerary.
A village protected by the Mother of Mercy.

Suddenly a small niche surrounded with taste by a particular red stone, pietra simona, on the wall of the Sanctuary of Our Lady, attracts my attention and moves me: at the bottom there is a slot for alms coins. In fact, inside there is a small wooden door which is locked in order to protect the big gains that will be collected. The fifteenth century churches are so tender and simple, but full of works of art, even if they are often modified during the following centuries. In the Sanctuary, there are really beautiful things: the inlaid with coloured marble balustrade, two very raffinate reliquaries on the presbytery wall and the wrought iron gate closing it. A mysterious charme comes from the fifteenth century frescoes attributed to Maestro Erratico from Bienno, perhaps a disciple of Giovanni Pietro from Cemmo, great master of that period, of whom we have wonderful works, above all in Esine and at Pianborno's Annunciata. On the wall in the upper register there is a simple but charming crucifixion; in the lower one there is Our Lady of Mercy, that I have already found in other churches of the valley. I am attracted by this image of Our Lady, who protects, forgives and intercedes for everyone, covering everybody with her wide cloak, held up by nice little angels: rich and poor, old and young, simple and elegant, monarchic and bourgeois people, representatives of monastic orders and of medieval disciplines, women strictly on the right, men on the left. Let's hope she intercedes for us too. In the nave you can also find ex-vows representing Saints, Mothers with Child, a wooden icon with a small but interesting deposition from the Cross in the cyma and a statue of S.Rocco, always present in our churches, preserver from the plague, wayfarer with a stick, a saddlebag and a shell, accompanied by a dog holding a bread in his mouth for the daily meal: perhaps they will share it as good friends. Outside, the church has a nice little portico, frescoed in the eighteenth century, a bell tower with horizontal and vertical granite bands, a small parvis with small walls where you can stop to chat and look at the landscape. We walk together in the village which extends lengthways, on a slope facing a narrow valley, where a joyful torrent flows, with fresh and full of fish water and big stones on the bed. The historical centre is of medieval structure: even today you can find walls of branches plaited with wooden boards, not properly covered with lime, typical of houses of peasant origin, some of them with dry-stone walls and small yards that can be reached through arches, external stairs and wooden arcades, narrow alleys with mysterious portals. But most of the houses have been restored by the inhabitants; a lot of them, emigrated to France and Belgium because of their job, come for the holidays to their native village, that they have never been able to forget, speaking that strange dialect with satisfaction, unique in the valley. Wonderful walks through paths or old muletracks start from Prestine and go up to Degna, Valle delle Valli, Novali, pleasant and easy among meadows and hardwood forests: try them.

Erminia Beccagutti
From the book: "…Ti racconto…un itinerario singolare"