The Witch of Monte Baldo
A story for young and old on the Garden of Italy, surrounded by flowers and plants
The local Monte Baldo Nature Park is a precious and rare setting. Its woods and peaks treasure botanical species that are unique in the world. The Park, a real open-air botanical treatise, has been a popular destination for naturalists and botanists since 1400.
If you decide to take your children up here for an excursion, we recommend the period between May and June, when lilies, gentians, orchids and golden globeflowers bloom. Before you head up there, however, we want to share a story with you!
An evil, evil witch
A long time ago an old witch decided to build her hut right on a beautiful meadow of Monte Baldo. The witch, dreary and evil, did not look favorably on the people of the valley, who were simple, tenacious and happy people. So, she pronounced a curse: she flew from meadow to meadow on her broom, turning poisonous every stem, blade of grass and flower.
The next morning the shepherds’ cattle fell dead after grazing the fresh grass, and the sick in the villages became even sicker after drinking the herbal decoctions from Monte Baldo. Terror gripped everyone’s heart, the children were holed up in their homes and only the echo of a thousand sobs could be heard in the village.
The attempt of the hermits
The poor valley residents asked for help from the hermits, monks who had chosen to build their hermitage on a high rock spur of Monte Baldo and spent their days there, praying and doing penance. The founder of the hermitage pronounced his anathema against the witch: “May my curse capture you if you still manage to poison the herbs, flowers, animals of Monte Baldo”. However, in his anathema the wise hermit forgot to mention “men”.
The witch immediately took advantage of this oversight, capturing and holding prisoners some of the valley dwellers. Men, women and children lost all hope and no one dared to leave their homes.
Then the flowers come to the rescue!
Fortunately, the flowers of Monte Baldo came to the aid of the poor men: at dusk they released all the poison given to them by the witch. And the old woman, having inhaled that air, fell asleep.
Meanwhile, the valley dwellers turned to the hermits again. The wise hermit, determined to defeat the witch once and for all and confident in the help of the Lord, went to the witch’s lair. The old woman, just awakened, threw herself at the hermit, but he raised his crucifix up high. A roar shook the air and two boulders fell on the witch of Monte Baldo, burying her.
From that day on, the valley dwellers lived as calm and serene as in the past, their animals resumed grazing without fear and the flowers and herbs of Monte Baldo continued to give health to all those who gathered them.
To this day, however, there is a huge boulder in the middle of the mule track that leads from Avio to the top of Monte Baldo. Nobody is brave enough to move it, because underneath there could still be the remains of the wicked witch!