Coumboscuro, the Italian Village That Doesn’t Speak Italian


Coumboscuro is dubbed as a small province of Italy. Being in a remote place, the people in this village do not speak Italian.

The village of Coumboscuro is near the border between the Piedmont region of Italy and France. Tourists who want to come to this village have to fly to Turin, take a train, bus or drive south to get there.

The official language of Coumboscuro is Provencal, the ancient medieval neo-Latin dialect of Occitan. This language is spoken throughout the Occitania region of France.

The population is very small, only about 30 people or so. Some of the residents of Coumboscuro are herders who often find their livestock attacked by wolves wandering around.

Coumboscuro, an Italian village that doesn’t speak Italian Photo: (Coumboscuro Center Prouvencal)

Meanwhile, the electricity often goes out for weeks during the winter. The internet connection is still very minimal.

Even so, the village is so beautiful with mountain meadows and fields of beautiful bright purple lavender. There are also stunning views from the Alpine peaks.

“We don’t have a TV,” shepherd Agnes Garrone told CNN Travel.

“When there is a power outage of more than 15 days, there is no reason to panic. We dug up an old oil lamp (belonging to) our grandparents,” he added.

Coumboscuro, the Italian Village That Doesn't Speak ItalianCoumboscuro, an Italian village that doesn’t speak Italian Photo: (Coumboscuro Center Prouvencal)

Agnes admits that she is used to getting up early in the morning to tend sheep. He worked every day without a day off, not even knowing Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Because, during the celebration, the cattle need to be fed and cared for.

“It’s a life of sacrifice but it’s very rewarding when you see the birth of a lamb,” he said.

He worked on an old farm in Coumboscuro. When many of the villagers who were younger than him had decided to leave the village many years ago, he and his brothers decided to stay and work in their ancestral land.

Their mother grew marijuana, as well as other herbs for medicine. It also makes syrup from old leaves and dandelions.

“Visitors are welcome to stay with us, we need people to discover our world. We don’t want to be forgotten and we have so much heritage to share,” said Agnes.

He considers Provencal, often characterized as a mixed language of Italian and French, as his mother tongue. Being part of a socio-cultural and linguistic community that has existed for centuries gives it a strong sense of identity and territorial ownership.

Provencal, however, remains an endangered language in the future. It was included in the UNESCO Atlas of World Languages ​​in Danger in 2010.

“This is one of the few valleys in the world where our tongues survive,” said Agnes’ uncle, Arneodo.

“In the past, it was a lyrical, literary language spoken by wandering court singers, which was later forgotten. But here, thanks to the efforts of my father, the youth are restoring the language of their ancestral heritage and many have decided to stay,” says Arneodo.

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