The Waldensian Valleys of Piedmont
Join us for a nine-day journey to the Waldensian Valleys of Piedmont. From our base in Torre Pellice, we'll explore the mountains and villages that have been the refuge and home for the Waldenses since the Middle Ages. We'll visit the borgate, the tiny villages or hamlets scattered on the mountainsides and that were until recently the centers of farming life and the homes of many of the Waldenses who left for North and South America in the past 150 years. We'll see historic churches and schools, walk mountain paths used for escape from warfare and traveled by generations of traders and herders, stroll through a weekly town market, and taste the dishes and specialities of this corner of the Italian Alps. We conclude with a stop in Torino, to see the city's eighteenth-century palaces and public squares. Housing is in a lodge located on the hills above Torre Pellice.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Participants from North America depart for Europe.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Flights arrive with connections to Torino's Caselle airport (TRN). A program representative will meet flights and escort everyone to our lodging at Torre Pellice about an hour away. Lodging for all nights of this program is in Torre Pellice. Transportation from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel back to the airport at the end of the program, is included. We’ll relax the rest of the day, then take an evening stroll and have dinner along Torre Pellice's pedestrian street. Counting on a good local blueberry season (which peaks now), we'll enjoy some local blueberry ice cream for dessert.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Breakfast this morning, and every morning, is self-serve continental style and is included in the program. We’ll explore the borgate (hamlets) around Villar Pellice this morning, the homes for many of the Waldenses who emigrated to South America and the United States in the late 1800s. We'll make as many contacts as our sources provide on the exact locations where families lived, and as much as possible, with the people (sometimes distant relatives) who occupy those houses today. In the afternoon we'll visit the Waldensian Museum and Cultural Center, for a good overview of Waldensian history.
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Those who wish may join us for a church service in Torre Pellice or in one of the churches in the Pellice Valley. We’ll continue to the village of Bobbio Pellice, have lunch at an outdoor restaurant, and walk to the monument of Sibaud, commemorating the spot where the Waldenses gathered in 1689 upon their return from exile in Switzerland.
Monday, July 3, 2017
Weather permitting, we will hike the upper stretches of the Pellice Valley from Villanova to the Rifugio Jervis at Pra, where we'll have a picnic lunch and enjoy the view of this high Alpine valley. Those who want to continue may go with Mark to the Colle della Croce (Cross Pass) which separates Italy from France. Transportation can be arranged for those who prefer not to hike to the Rifugio Jervis, but the trail (which climbs 1000 feet) is not difficult and the view of the cascading Pellice River along the way is beautiful.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Our minibus will take us to the Angrogna Valley, one of the most picturesque valleys of the region and the site of the Waldenses' adhesion to the Reformation. We will visit the Collegio dei Barbi (the barba "college"), where itinerant Waldensian ministers gathered to study the Bible during the Middle Ages, the Gheisa d'la Tana, the cave where, according to tradition, Waldenses could take refuge in times of persecution, and the Odin-Bertot School, one of the primary schools constructed thanks to an English benefactor in the early 1800s and now converted into a museum. We will take time to enter the churches of Angrogna with their beautiful views of the mountains. We'll buy bread, cold cuts, fruit and drinks to have a picnic lunch. We return to Torre Pellice in the late afternoon.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
In the early afternoon our bus will take us to San Germano Chisone, about 45 minutes away, for a visit of this old Waldensian community and more recently a textile mill town. We'll continue to Pomeano and Pramollo in the late afternoon, the villages from which many emigrants left for the United States in the nineteenth century. We'll enjoy Piedmontese and local specialties for dinner at the Gran Truc Restaurant in Pramollo in the evening before returning to Torre Pellice.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
We head up the Germanasca Valley in our minibus to visit Prali, the highest of the Waldensian communities, a wintertime ski resort and summertime conference destination. We'll visit the Waldensian Museum, then ride the ski lift to the Tredici Laghi (Thirteen Lakes), at 2500 meters above sea level, then take the lifts back down. Before departing Prali we'll stop at the Waldensian Church's Agape Conference Center, built by Pastor Tullio Vinay and hundreds of young volunteers from Europe and America at the end of World War II, and dedicated to peacemaking through yearly conferences of young people from around Europe and the world. Return to Torre Pellice in the late afternoon.
Friday, July 7, 2017
Friday is market day in Torre Pellice, and we'll take the morning to walk among the stalls of clothing, fruit, vegetables, cheese, sausage and other homemade goods from the countryside. We'll leave later in the morning in our private minibus for the plains below, stopping first for a guided tour at the Palazzina Stupinigi, the hunting lodge of the Dukes of Savoy, recently reopened to the public after decades of restoration. We'll continue to Torino for lunch and to see royal palaces and Baroque churches in the center of the city. These are the landmark buildings of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was the original nucleus of the Kingdom of Italy, declared in 1861. We return to Torre Pellice in our minibus in the late afternoon. Dinner in Torre Pellice.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Continental breakfast in the hotel. Mark will accompany those who depart from Torino to the international airport in our minibus. Most flights reach North America the same day.
Fees and payments
Costs for this eight-night program are 2200 U.S. dollars per person for a double-occupancy room, and 2500 U.S. dollars for a single occupancy room. Fee includes tourist-class lodging in Torre Pellice with continental breakfast buffets, all local transportation in Italy as described in the itinerary, museum entrances as detailed, and accompaniment from arrival in Torino to departure from Torino by a multilingual guide. Fee does not include international airfare, lunches or dinners, travel insurance, or tips. The price will be reduced for those who continue from the preceding Rome to Piedmont tour.
A deposit of 500 U.S. dollars is due on March 1, 2017. The balance is due on April 1, 2017. Fees are to be paid by check or interbank wire transfer to River Plate Seminars.