For centuries, Italy's Paroldo town has been home to a group of shaman women, known as “Masche”, who are believed to possess healing powers as well as bewitching culinary skills.
"The art of preparing homemade specialties is linked to and enhanced by their magic to heal all kinds of skin diseases," local resident Romano Salvetti, owner of the 100-year-old Trattoria Salvetti said.
The Masche used to work in shifts and were contacted to help cure sick people whenever traditional medicine failed.
"There are still many of them in Paroldo. They just like to keep to themselves and don't want to spread the word,” he added.
The healing power is passed on from generation of women to the other in the same family and before the oldest Masche dies, she must transfer the healing gift to her granddaughter or daughter through a simple touch.
"If the dying Masche has no next of kin who is female -- or none are around when death comes, she must touch and pass her ability on to an inanimate or animate object. Be it a cat or a broomstick, it doesn't matter," Salvetti said.
"If she fails to do so, the healing power dies with her."
Paroldo is located about 80 kilometres southeast of Turin.