Balma Boves, an example of sustainability
A perfectly preserved site amidst ancient chestnut trees, mule tracks and waterfalls
Those who, travelling along the river Po, are tempted by the delightful village of Sanfront (in the province of Cuneo), may eventually want to take a plunge into a rural ecosystem that has much to teach to our younger generations. On Mount Bracco stands an ancient village built under a large rocky outcrop (the “balma”), 650 metres above sea level: it’s Balma Boves.
Why it is special
Balma Boves is a village probably inhabited since the 18th century and until the 1950s by a small community of a few dozen people and then abandoned forever. A village that has stopped in time and remained exactly as it was then. The site is easily accessible on foot from Rocchetta, in about half an hour. The walk takes us past centuries-old chestnut trees, which, like old gentlemen, silently observe the mule tracks, bordered by stone slabs stuck into the ground. Balma Boves is an example of sustainability and resilience, a beautiful and worthwhile experience for both adults and children.
A bit of history
We plunge in nature, in this village frozen in time, under a roof of rock. We stroll among the stone houses, the ancient bread oven, the dryer, the fountains, the stables and the barns, we peep into the humble houses and see their original furnishings. It is easy to imagine how that small community lived: a hard life with no comfort, but in harmony with nature, self-sufficient, respecting natural resources and the cycles of the seasons. These small resilient communities are also called the "Chestnut Civilizations". They were capable of creating an economic system based on the consumption of what the forest offered - wood, leaves and chestnuts - and on livestock farming.
Good to know
Balma Boves presumably dates back to 1700, but some rock carvings in the surrounding area reveal the presence of humans in much earlier times.