Triora, witches and the 1587 trial

Triora, a village in the upper Argentina Valley, has had the charming reputation of “Village of Witches” for centuries. The story has its roots in the year 1587, when the disciples of Torquemada began their legendary Inquisition. During a special session of Parliament, some women, who usually gathered at the Cabotina in Triora (“a horrid and deserted place”, so the chronicles tell us), were arbitrarily accused of being responsible for a continuing famine. The award to find them was as much as 500 scudi.
Twenty women were imprisoned and, after a summary trial, thirteen of them, four girls and a boy, were declared guilty. One of the witches arrested, sixty-year-old Isotta Stella, did not survive torture, while another woman, in terror, threw herself from the window of the room where she was imprisoned, dying as a result of the injuries. Six death sentences were issued, which were then converted into
imprisonment in the Genoese prison, awaiting the final trial. Finally, the Holy Office in Rome intervened and issued twenty-one verdicts. The only man prosecuted, Biagio Verrando Cagna, was sentenced to recant in Triora. The nineteen women investigated underwent penances or had to recant publicly in Triora.

In 1960, a Witchcraft Museum, which boasts a number of visitors every year, was created in Triora, through the efforts of Father Francesco Ferraironi.

[Marco Scolesi]

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