THE PRISON ROUTE
Altitude difference: ↑ 250m ↓ 730m
Duration: 3 giorni
The Prison route starts in Bobbio Pellice and runs in three stages over 41 km.
Initially you walk along the Pellice river, on the right side of the valley. As you walk, your back is turned to the peaks that close off the valley, Bric Bucie and Punta Fiunira.
Having reached Villar Pellice, the route now continues up to the Ciarmis hamlet and towards the hamlets on the left-hand side. The route is the historic one taken by deportees during the round-ups in May 1686. The road passes the Waldensian temple of the Coppieri of Torre Pellice. Then going downhill we meet the Waldensian Foundation and Cultural Centre, where we can visit the Waldensian Museum with its historical and ethnographic sections.
The route then continues for a short stretch on the right of the Pellice, through the woods towards the village of Luserna Alta, which was a Catholic bulwark in the 17th century. It was the first place where the Waldensians were imprisoned, waiting to continue their journey to the Piedmontese prisons. As you walk further and further away from the mountains, it is easy to imagine the pain of those who had a home and land in those valleys. On the way we meet Bibiana and then Cavour, arriving at the town centre of Villafranca Piemonte, which stands a short distance from the course of the river Po. This was the point of departure for the Waldensians who embarked from here for their various destinations of imprisonment.
The path follows the valley floor of the Pellice valley, initially walking on the shady and wooded right-hand side. Behind you will be the peaks which close off the valley – Bric Bucie and Punta Fiunira. Once past Bobbio Pellice, the opening of the Vallone degli Invincibili opens up on the left. The Waldensians found refuge here in the impregnable crags of the Gran Guglia. On the opposite side the Comba dei Carbonieri was a place of resistance both in the 17th century and for partisan formations between 1943 and 1945. From Villar Pellice, (an ideal place to break up the stage in the middle of the day), the route continues with the climb towards Ciarmis and the villages on the left orographic side. The route is the historical one, through which the deportees passed during the round-ups in May 1686.
Once below the hamlet of Bonnet, descend to the Coppieri temple and then to the centre of Torre Pellice, passing in front of the Waldensian Cultural Centre.
The route continues for a short stretch on the right of the Pellice, through shady woods, towards the village of Lusernetta, which was in the 17th century a Catholic bulwark. It was the first place where deportees were imprisoned, waiting to continue their journey into the unknown. From Lusernetta you cross the Pellice river again and pass through Luserna San Giovanni before heading towards Bricherasio. As you walk through the apple orchards, look back, as perhaps they did. You will see a circle of peaks glittering with snow, which get further away with every step, and are soon veiled by the mist of the plain. Can you imagine the yearning of those who, in had home and land those valleys, as they were marched away. fter taking the Bricherasio-Barge cycle path for a while, we head towards the Rocca di Cavour, passing through the orchards that accompany us almost all the way to the centre.
The ancient roads, punctuated by votive pillars, wind through the countryside, which is made even more monotonous in modern times by the monoculture of corn. Looking back, the mountains are distant and barely recognisable, but the mass of the Rocca di Cavour stands out behind it, like an island in a green sea.
The long Corso Wuillermin leads to Via Roma and the centre of Villafranca Piemonte, built a short distance from the course of the Po. The existence of a river port is documented from the 12th century; this was the departure point for the Waldensians to the various prisons scattered throughout Piedmont.