From Reality to Legend

In an unknown year between 1496 and 1537, a violent plague spread through the village of Droane, slaughtering its population of around 150.

The plague was so terrible that when a loaf of bread was placed at the Croce di Camiolo, between Droane and Val Vestino, the part of the loaf facing the village of Droane turned black and rotted, while the other remained white. Only two old women survived, who, having taken refuge in a stable, became immune to the infection thanks to the smell of the “bec” goat. Finding themselves alone, the two women sought hospitality elsewhere, heading towards Magasa. They were turned away for fear of being contagious, so they had to carry on to Tignale. The fatigue proved fatal for one of the two women who died of starvation along the way, while the other arrived at her destination and was warmly welcomed. When she died, she bequeathed the land she owned near Droane with one condition: that every year on June 26th, the day of San Vigilio, a saint to whom she was particularly devoted, a mass be said in her memory and at the end of it a quintal of blessed bread be distributed among the participants as a defence against illness. That tradition is still respected today.


The church of San Vigilio in Droane is named after the bishop of Trento who was the first to bring Christianity to Val Vestino. Alongside the ancient Pieve di Turano, it is one of the first churches in the valley and seems to have been established prior to 1186. It stands alone on a hill overlooking Val Vestino and consists of a single barrel-vaulted nave with a gabled roof. At the back of the church there is a cross above the ossuary located under the floor of the old church and dedicated to the victims of the plague. Nearby, there is an unusual building in a “cùel” ravine that was inhabited until 1952.

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