As the coronavirus pandemic ravages Italy, the village of Montaldo Torinese has so far escaped unscathed. Though it's just 11 miles from Turin—which had 3,658 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday—in the country's northern Piedmont region, none of its residents had as of the weekend contracted the virus that causes the disease. However, the mayor says "miracle water" is not, as has been speculated, the reason for the village's protection. As legend has it, the water from the village well helped cure Napoleon's troops in 1800 and they went on to win a battle against Austrian forces. But there's one problem with the idea that the water might still be performing miracles today.
"According to tradition, Napoleon’s generals were sick with pneumonia," Mayor Sergio Gaiotti tells the Guardian. He says the "clean air and pristine countryside," and, yes, the well water contributed to healing them. "But today, the well is closed and its water used only to irrigate the fields. You can’t drink from it," Gaiotti says. He theorizes the village's clean air and healthy lifestyle are the more likely contributing factors, and notes the village was the first in the area to distribute masks. "From the beginning, I put notices in people’s letterboxes listing the things they needed to do to stay safe, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding direct contact," he adds. Meanwhile, in Turin, a convent has been isolated after five nuns there, including the mother superior, died from the virus, Crux Now reports. (Read more coronavirus stories.)