Ah, Italy: the land of excellent cuisine, breathtaking art, and magnificent history. And while roaming through its beautiful cities and villages, visitors just might happen to stumble right into a unique village with an ancient history of its own.
Sancto Lucio de Coumboscuro, nicknamed Italy's "Little Provence," is a small, quiet residential area, located between the Piedmont region of Italy and France. The village has seen quite some political changes over the centuries. The area of the Piedmont region, in which Coumboscuro is situated, has been alternately controlled by French and Italian governments several times in the past centuries. Because of this, many of the area's residents hold identities that are neither French nor Italian - but somewhere in between.
The area's main district consists of just eight wooden cottages surrounding an old chapel, which was established by French monks in 1018. It prospered for several years but encountered major changes in the 1400s as the harsh winters of the region brought in an influx of families, who only left in the summer. Over the centuries, the area's population diminished significantly, revived only in the 1950s by a man named Sergio Arneodo, who became a teacher in Coumboscuro. After studying the local language, Arneodo helped revive the village's culture and community by restoring its folklore and linguistic roots.
The village's 30 residents all speak Provençal, an ancient medieval neo-Latin dialect of a language also spoken in Southern France - Occitan. Influenced by both French and Italian, the oldest written pieces of Occitan date back to 960, making it one of the oldest languages still alive in the country. 25-year-old Agnes Garrone, who lives in the village, told CNN Travel that she considers Provençal to be her mother tongue instead of Italian. She shared that she takes pride in being a part of this socio-cultural and linguistic community that goes back centuries, as it builds a strong sense of identity for her. It also reaffirms her belonging to the land of the small village in which her ancestors lived for several years. She also emphasized the importance of the village's prosperity, and the need for more people to visit and get to know it. "Visitors are welcome to come 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," explained Garrone.