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Italian Ghost Town to Artistic Haven

An earthquake leveled this cultural Italian town hundreds of years ago, but artists have since moved in and are reviving its spirit with galleries and cafes.
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There is a small village in Italy that has survived major devastations, has been completely revived, and has almost been completely restored throughout the course of nearly 1,000 years since its establishment in 1050. Bussana Vecchia, though small, is incredibly rich in stories and culture.

When the community was first established, it needed to be constructed in a way that would defend it from possible invaders. As a result, the homes of this neighborhood were built into jagged hills. Picture the favelas of the Rio de Janeiro; the community of Bussana was built much like those homes for its own protection.

favelaAccording to Atlas Obscura, “Homes and buildings hung in precarious clusters in the rock, often supported by a single narrow, winding road both in and out. Serving as their own fortresses, these towns boasted engineering so advanced as to have held off the advances not only of their enemies, but of time itself.”

The small village suffered a terrible destruction at one point that altered it forever, according to Italy This Way. “In 1887 the medieval village of Bussana was destroyed by an earthquake that hit the region. At the time most people in the village were in the church, which collapsed during the earthquake, and about 2,000 people died during the tragedy.”

Eventually, the town was reestablished nearby, and the destroyed area became known as Old Bussana, which translates in Italian to “Bussana Vecchia.” The ruins of the old village, transformed into something of a ghost town for many years.

Though some had tried to reestablish the village, they often failed. It was not until the 1960s that people actually became successful in rebuilding the community.

“By the 1960s, a community of rebel artists led by the Sicilian Vanni Giuffrè settled on ‘Old Bussana’ and rebuilt the ruins by hand, without electricity or running water. Their vision was that the village would become their bohemian oasis; a place for them to live simply, freely, and cheaply, without societal or artistic constraints,” according to Atlas Obscura.

Lonely Planet notes that these artists used the rubble and remains of the destruction from so long ago to rebuild Bussana; the result of this work today is “a thriving community of international artists.”

With only about 60 inhabitants, according to Blumen Riviera, Bussana has become a cultural hub yet again. The artists living there have truly revived the place, and the village now has restaurants, galleries, cafes, and more. Though the government owns the land and wishes to demolish it for safety reasons, local artists are not budging.

Italy This Way reveals that “the decades as tourism and the chance to profit from the village has increased various conflicts between the local government, the longstanding resident artists, and the locals whose ancestors owned the village, over who exactly now owns the property.”

Still, the current residents seem to be proud of their new establishment and cherish the “International Artists Village.” Though very little people remain in the community, Bussana Vecchia is certainly not a ghost town anymore. It is a thriving city of artists.

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