The house is called La Vignassa (pronounced Vin Yassa with the accent on
yassa) a term used to denote low quality grapes which must have once been
grown in the region. It is a mountain long house and is built on hillside
at 730 metres overlooking the village of Torre Pellice. Building started
at the eastern end somewhere around the end of the 1500s and progressed over
the years with the most recent rooms being added at the western end around
the late 1800s. Most parts of the building in the middle date from the 18th
Century. Pottery and coin finds have made it possible to date most of the
rooms fairly accurately. There are a total of 22 rooms though nearly all
were used for agricultural purposes, byres, haylofts etc.
During the Waldensian persecutions many of the houses seem to have been pulled down intentionally by the departing residents, to prevent them from being used by the Catholics. The Vignassa shows signs of some rebuilding especially of the upper parts of the buildings explained possibly by the fact that a couple of the rooms at the eastern end show signs of intense fires.
There is a separate building dated 1681 in front of the main house which is unusual in that the original dividing wall has been demolished to form one large room with a chimney. Most of the other habitable rooms were small, to conserve heat.
When we bought the house there was also another building with 4 rooms where we now park our car. Unfortunately the walls were in such a bad state that pulling it down was the only option. Finds in the lower part of these buildings dated it to the early 1600s. All the terraces below the house were made using the stones from this building.
Since before the times of the persecutions right up to the end of the 1800s the house was lived in by the Eynard family and research in the archives has put names if not faces to most of them.
The area surrounding the Vignassa was once a wine growing area and all the terraces which are now thickly wooded were once well-tended vineyards and fields. In fact originally the name Vignassa referred to the whole area and only in the 1700s did the name settle on the house alone.
Most of the Pellice valley is littered with abandoned houses some extremely old. The inhabitants for one reason or another, attracted perhaps by the industrial development of the valley floor or maybe forced by the poverty in which the lived, left the mountains in search of new lives elsewhere. The houses fell into disrepair and the fields and terraces reverted to woodland. At the Vignassa we have cut down the brambles, cleared some of the terraces and repaired walls and terraces. We have also tried to keep the external facade of the house as near to its original appearance as possible trying to harmonize the requirements of modernity with the wish to preserve the historical character of the place.