ALAGNA AND THE WALSER
Alagna Valsesia is a real gem situated at the foot of the towering peaks of Monte Rosa, in the province of Vercelli, in Piedmont. In the thirteenth century the town was colonized by the Walsers, mountain people coming from the Swiss canton of Valais. They fled from their territories in search of new arable lands.
The Walser colonies are six in total, all founded between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries: Alagna, Riva Valdobbia, Rima San Giuseppe, Carcoforo, Rimasco and Rimella. The Walser culture has been handed down over the centuries and the citizens of Alagna are proud of it. They were farmers, shepherds, merchants and artisans.
Great workers, their lifestyle was based on the rural activity marked by seasons and religious holidays. The Walsers often clashed with the indigenous people who were living in the colonized countries and this favored the development of a spirit of independence which contributed to the improvement of their economic conditions but also to the preservation of their traditions and customs over the centuries.
The language they spoke was a variety of the southern German dialect, very similar to the archaic form of the Swiss German dialect. The architecture is a recognizable feature of the Walser culture. The houses, called “rascard”, are made of stone (the basement) and wood (the upper part).
Curiosity: Every three years the traditions of the Walsers are celebrated and the Alpine communities meet in turn in a different colony.