The Bisalta, the magical mountain of Cuneo

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In Assedium we have always told you how our company, based in Cuneo, can enjoy a unique view of the mountains, as Cuneo itself is in fact a city nestled in the western Alps.

However, there is a specific mountain that is defined as “the mountain of Cuneo”, as it is very close and clearly visible from the plateau on which the city stands: the Bisalta. 2,231 meters high, given its position overlooking the plain, it is one of the most panoramic mountains in Piedmont, to the point that, on clear days, you can even glimpse the Ligurian Sea.

(Ph: Bisalta, pic by Alpi di Cuneo)

Bisalta in the name carries its strong peculiarity: Bis-Alta in fact means “twice high”, this is because the relief has not one, but two peaks, just as if it were doubled. Perhaps for this very reason, historically it has always been object of great fascination for magicians, esotericists, numerologists and the subject of numerous legends.

In fact, let’s start from the conformation: a mountain, two peaks and three valleys, magical and symbolic numbers (1, 2, 3). Moreover: at the first snowfall, it is possible to see, again from Cuneo, a very clear distinction between the white of the summit and the black of the most wooded parts of its sides. Therefore, black and white, good and evil, heaven and hell; in short, other symbols. Furthermore, Bisalta rocks are subject to geomagnetic phenomena, thus attracting lightning strikes even from a clear sky: all things well explained today by science, but which years and years ago certainly generated not a little fear and awe. For all these reasons, the mountain has always been considered almost a sacred place for various populations (mainly Celtic-Ligurian) who, over the centuries, have left the signs of their passage, such as: engraved crosses, natural altars, small dolmens and menhirs of pre-Roman era.

(Ph: La Bisalta, view from the Sanctuary of Madonna degli Alpini and San Maurizio, above Vignolo)

In addition, there’s a well-known legend among the inhabitants of Cuneo which tells how the “splitting” of the Bisalta peaks (or Besimauda, ​​from the Celtic-Ligurian) took place. In fact, it is said that years ago, a man, resident in one of the mountain villages, after lingering at the tavern and then getting drunk, had to return home at night. Being quite drunk, however, he was having a hard time even standing up. Not only: imagine having to walk a mountain path at night without torches, perhaps, as in this case, even without the moonlight, covered by the mountain itself. The man then cursed out loud several times (and certainly in Piedmontese!): “What would I give to see you razed to the ground, damn mountain! I would give everything to send you to the devil’s house, even my soul! ”. At the sound of these words, suddenly, a bright red smoke appeared on the path, and inside it, a man dressed in green and with a two-pointed hat. “What do you want from me now?” muttered the drunk man. The stranger replied that he had listened to his requests and was there to help him in sending “the devil’s house” that mountain, destroying it, so as to make the moonlight reappear. “Just for six years, you grant me your soul and I will remove the Bisalta for you by dawn” said the man in a green suit. “Deal, what should I do?” exclaimed the mountaineer. “Sign this pact” and the devil handed him a parchment of paper. “I’m not good at writing!” – the man retorted, barely holding himself up. “Then get yourself a cut and mark the contract with your blood.” Said and done: the man affixed a cross with his blood. At that point an army of devils emerged from the ground to gnaw the whole mountain top.

Unfortunately, the hours passed and the rocks were quite hard to be removed by sunrise. The devil then desperately sought some clause on the contract to keep the soul of the man, of which he was hungry, even in the event of failure to remove the mountain. You know those semi-hidden clauses on today’s contracts? Or those tiny, unreadable asterisks? Something like that!

When looking for a possible clause, however, the devil realized that the man had signed with a huge CROSS (a christian symbol)! As soon as he saw it, the mountain trembled and the devil with all his army disappeared immediately, leaving the work unfinished: a gnawed mountain with two peaks.

Also in this legend, therefore, a huge number of symbols: light and dark, crosses and devils, good and evil … This is how this legendary mountain was born.

Finally, let’s not forget that in 1198, the year of the foundation of Cuneo as a free municipality, the fires lit right on the Bisalta functioned as a signal for neighboring municipalities as an ideal time to rebel against feudal harassment, following the example of Cuneo. A beautiful image of freedom!

A truly special mountain, full of magic and beautiful to walk on its slopes. A romantic view from Cuneo, with its sinuous profile full of curves, especially when admired by the beloved Civic Tower, a keen eye on the city.

(Ph: Bisalta, view from Cuneo Civic Tower)

Sources:

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