Many ancient villages in Italy are currently experiencing a resurgence, which is quite remarkable. In Liguria, there is an excellent example of this. Bussana, perched on a hill between Arma di Taggia and Sanremo, was severely damaged by a severe earthquake on February 23, 1887. The village was abandoned, and it was rebuilt several kilometers farther down the coast as Bussana Nuovo. Bussana Vecchia’s renaissance was aided by a group of artists. We’ll tell you what to see in Bussana Vecchia and how to get there, as well as the places you shouldn’t miss when visiting this charming village.
The history of Bussana Vecchia
On February 23, 1887, something occurred that was going to alter the village and its inhabitants‘ lives. While the majority of the population was in church for Mass, a tremendous earthquake shattered the building, resulting in a large number of fatalities. The entire village has crumbled, burying the inhabitants.
After the disaster, the survivors retreated with their homes to a new location on the river, but they intended to return and rebuild the village. Local authorities, however, prevented them from resettling and prompted the formation of a new settlement closer to the sea known as Bussana Nuova. Families moved out of Bussana Vecchia permanently in 1894, changing the hamlet’s name to Bussana Vecchia and sealing it as a ghost town.
In the late 1940s, immigrants from southern Italy began to settle illegally in the ghost town. After a few Italian Police evictions in the 1950s, authorities ordered that all first-floor stairwells and roofs be destroyed.Despite this, in the early 1960s Vanni Giuffrè, a Sicilian painter, decided to relocate to Bussana Vecchia. Giuffrè along with other artists coming from all over the World is credited for giving the village its rebirth. The hamlet’s inhabitants created a “constitution,” which regulates their everyday lives. All the residences must be reconstructed at their own expense, with only local raw materials and creative objectives in mind. These painters, sculptors, and artists began restoring abandoned houses ravaged by forces of nature while also spending time in their workshops.
On July 25, 1968, an eviction was ordered again as tensions with the previous inhabitants and police had been building for months. When the police arrived, they discovered that the villagers behind their barricades were refusing to leave and a big group of worldwide media reporters witnessing the scene. The police forces decided to avoid a conflict. The hamlet became known as “The Artists’ Village.”
In the early 1980s, the population surpassed one hundred individuals not only artists but also those seeking to take advantage of the tourist rush. This is how common artisans and workshops came into existence, lowering the overall quality of the pieces of art on display. Today, the artists are living in their studios or have opened shops selling ceramic art, paintings, books, jewelry, and other handmade artistic objects.
What to see in Bussana Vecchia
The hamlet is undoubtedly the main tourist attraction, with new structures emerging from the ruins. That is why we strongly advise you to explore Bussana Vecchia’s ancient maze of alleys and narrow stone streets. One of the most fascinating and interesting things about the village is the gardens and plants growing among the ruins. It’s an area filled with lush vegetation, where a rich flora has developed over the years, and it’s a perfect marriage of art and nature.
It is also possible to take in the vista from its balconies. Furthermore, the terraces provide a lovely panorama of the village. Finally, there is also a museum area where you may explore the origins of Bussana.
Sant’Egidio’s ruined church is another fascinating location. This is the town’s heart. The village’s rebirth is symbolized by the bell tower, which survived the earthquake. The church’s hazardous crumbling interiors are not accessible, but the external gate allows visitors to view the frescos and the disembowelment structure from outside. The visitor, thinking about the terrible earthquake catastrophe, will undoubtedly be stunned by the peace and tranquility all around the community.
How to get to Bussana Vecchia
Finding Bussana Vecchia is quite straightforward. In Bussana Nuvo you may just follow the road signs that indicate Bussana Vecchia’s way. The hamlet is reached via a narrow and steep winding road. In high season, when there are a lot of people on the road, it may be difficult. Because the roads are too narrow, drivers must merge into a single lane and cross oncoming traffic is only feasible in a few locations. There’s a limited amount of street parking just outside Bussana Vecchia.