This time of year there are so many Festas and Sagras that it's alway hard to keep up. I always have big plans to write up many of the activities so that it will whet your appetite to visit during one, but alas reality sets in and I find myself enjoying the time spent with our guests and the festa has flown right by. The Maschera di Ferro is one such event. My London friend Debbie had come for a week, so we stayed busy seeing and doing as much as we could. We did a short tour of Torino and up the Mole Antonelliana for a view of old Torino and the Alps in the distance, but they were obscured by the haze of the humidity, but the views of the city were grand. Then there is the over 1,000 year old edition of Pinerolo's twice weekly market, that is large, bustling and noisy. I always enjoy having a nosey around. Then on to Staffarda Abbey on the way to Manta Castle by way of Saluzzo and back to Pinerolo for the evening's festivites. The picture at the left is by local "L'eco del Chisone" staff photographer, Dario Constantino.
The evening didn't disappoint.
The local legend goes that the Man in the Iron Mask was kept here in the Pinerolo(Pignerol) prison for 11 years before being transfered to other fortresses until ending up at the Bastille where he remained until his death. He was imprisoned for around 30 years or so and his identity never completely verified althought there have been many theories, speculation, and even a few movies. Pinerolo's weekend long festival usually features a local celebrity as the mysterious man whose identity is revealed at the close of the festivites. Last year the mysterious man was Pier Gros, neighboring Susa valley's own Olympian and World Cup Downhill champion. This evening festivites featured quite a bit of parading of the drum and flag corps with nobility and contadini in full costume as it does through out the entire weekend. Street performers entertained at all the different piazzas and the mysterious prisoner paced in his cell with the monsignor in attendance. The center of town had the main entertainment with fire twirlers and eaters with various dance troupes set against a backdrop of the Duomo with full moon, that cast a magical spell over all. I truly felt I had stepped back in time and enjoyed a magical medieval evening.
It seems to me in America whenever there are reenactments of days gone by, no matter the authenticity of costume, there is still always a feeling of contemporary life lurking around. Here in Europe, when you are in old villages and towns, which date back hundreds of years and more, there is an authenticity that really gives me the chills. This night I truly felt transported.