‘A FATA D’ALISGIANI’ – The Legend of the ‘Fairy from Alesani’

Chris Allen Fairy geograph.org.ukFairies, who occasionally appear in the human world are generally beautiful – and it is said that men, despite the fears they experience in seeing them, fall in love.

The fairy has very long hair, sparkling eyes and possesses eternal youth.
During the daytime, in order to hide from men, she dwells in unreachable places; such as deep caves, the bottom of rivers and mountain tops. Yet, it does happen that a man and a fairy meet, driven by a mutual curiosity – and this encounter brings happiness, health and wealth to the man. This story about Alesani and Francescu bears witness here.
Once upon a time, in the Orezza valley, there lived a very poor family. One day, feeling very disheartened, the father said to his children: ‘Leave, and seek fortune, for bread is becoming scarce here !’
Poor Francescu cried his heart out, for he was the youngest of the family and also a lame person. They all set out on their way, but after a few days his brothers abandoned him under a chestnut tree. Francescu wept until he was exhausted, and finally fell asleep. When he woke up, an old woman was sitting beside him, and he realised his leg was not hurting him any more. He got up, walked around and noticed he was no longer limping. He then saw the old woman smiling, and as he was cured, he knew she must be a fairy. Courageous Francescu didn’t know how he could thank her, and expressed his deep gratitude. Touched by his gratefulness, the old woman regained her appearance as a fairy, and offered to grant all his wishes – she gave him a bag, within which he could put everything he wanted, and a staff that would fulfil all his wishes.
Francescu wanted to thank her again, but she had already disappeared.
He was now very hungry, so he asked his bag for bread, cheese and water. Immediately, his wish was granted. Full, he went on his way and his footsteps brought him to the casino in Cervioni; where it was said that the devil was disguised as a croupier, who watched the players lose all their money, and then proposed to help them in exchange for their soul.

 

Of course, in order to play at the casino one needed money, and Francescu didn’t have any – so, he asked his bag for a hundred thousand crowns, and went to sit at the table. It wasn’t long before the devil noticed him. Francescu played all night, and the following night until his bag was completely empty. Naturally, the devil offered to return everything he had lost, in exchange for his soul. As a reply, Francescu said: ‘jump into my bag, foul devil !’, and the devil found himself prisoner. ‘Strike ! strike !’ Francescu ordered his staff, and the devil cried with pain ‘mercy ! mercy !’ he shouted ‘I will do whatever you want !’ – Francescu then asked him to release all the ruined souls he had stolen, opening his bag and setting him free.
It was now high time to return to his village, where his parents were waiting for him. On the way, he punished a wicked doctor who refused to help a sick old man, to whom he gave a large sum of money. Back in his village, he made sure his parents never lacked anything and made sure everybody had sufficient food, so that famine would never return. Francescu had brought happiness to everybody, but, he wasn’t happy himself – he missed his brothers, who didn’t want to return.

 

When he was very old, death visited him .. but, he wasn’t ready, for he desired to see the fairy from Alesani one last time beforehand. She came, yes she came to visit him, and he was once again dazzled by her beauty .. she proposed to offer him eternal youth and everything he desired, for all the good he had accomplished over the years – but, Francescu was not only old, he was also a wise man and he refused. He bent down towards the fireplace, and threw the bag and the staff into the fire, so that they would never fall into the wrong hands.
It was now time to allow death come and take him.

 

Source: Contes et légendes de Corse Corsica Mea
Image: Chris Allen Copyright ©

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