We spent Sunday Morning In Bussana Vecchia Italy walking,climbing up walls and stairs to stop and talk with it's variety of artists and local residents for my first episode of The Savage Roads!
Andreas starts our visit by capturing the village sign
Bussana Vecchia is a former ghost town in Liguria, Italy. Abandoned due to an earthquake in 1887, it was renovated and repopulated by an international community of artists in the early 1960s. It is administratively a hamlet (frazione) of the city of Sanremo, near the border with France. I decided to take a ride on the Harley from Genoa with cameras and drone in tow! What an amazing spot!
Bussana was founded probably in the second half of the 9th century when the coastal region was repeatedly attacked by Saracens. It was built on the top of a hill to be easily defended. In 1429 it had 250 inhabitants and it was granted autonomy from the Maritime Republic of Genoa. A period of major development followed and most of the current buildings were built in this period.
The buildings left standing after the earthquake form a lovely vista.
The French Riviera and western Liguria are at the junction of the south-western Alps and the Liguria basin, a region of moderate seismicity. The severest earthquake to hit Bussana struck the region on February 23, 1887, killing more than 2,000 people. The worst of the damage in Bussana occurred at 6:21 on that Ash Wednesday morning, a seismic wave lasting 20 seconds which caused immediate destruction and deaths throughout the village. but no sense of this remains today.
The earthquake was the first recorded by a true seismograph built by Filippo Cecchi in Moncalieri, Italy. Most buildings were severely damaged and the authorities decided to rebuild the village on a new site downhill called Bussana Nuova (New Bussana). The old village was abandoned and all of its buildings declared dangerous. The locals have done a great deal of rebuilding and shaping up.
A small restaurant serves locally grown food and craft beers
In 1947, immigrants from southern Italy started illegally settling the ghost town. After a few forced evictions by the Italian police in the 1950s, the authorities ordered the destruction of all first-floor stairways and rooftops. Despite this, in the early 1960s Vanni Giuffrè, a sicilian painter, together with a group of artists, the Community of International Artists (now International Artists' Village), decided to move to what was by then commonly known as Bussana Vecchia (Old Bussana). The spirit of the organization was somewhat idealistic: to be able to live simply and to work artistically.
In the village there was no electricity, tap water, or sanitation, but the new community of inhabitants grew from the small original nucleus to around 20-30 people by 1968, mostly hippie artists coming from all over: Italian, Austrian, English, French, Danish, German, and Swedish.
Tensions with the old inhabitants and with the police grew until on July 25, 1968, an eviction was ordered again and the police were sent to the village to enforce it. When the police forces arrived, they were faced with the villagers behind barricades refusing to leave and by a large group of international news reporters. The police decided to avoid confrontation.
Gerson, Beppe & Andreas Lucerna Films team taking a break.
During the past sixty years, Bussana Vecchia has been partially rebuilt by its new inhabitants. The International Artists' Village was born, and despite periodic confrontations with the authorities (the latest eviction order was issued in 1997 when all buildings were declared property of the Italian Government), the community is still living there, selling art to tourists, and organizing art events.
The artists and craftsmen, who live and work in Bussana Vecchia, have turned it into what it is today: an oasis of creativity, a unique and special place in the world. In December 2017, however, the Italian Department of State Property (Demanio) sent to all the inhabitants tax settlements of tens of thousands of euros and termed them ‘occupiers’. Fear arose within the village that the "Bussanesi" might lose their houses and homes, which they had rebuilt from ruins.
Inside the walls there are many gardens rich and overgrown but well tended.
On my new biker adventure series The Savage Roads I am going to take you the viewers with my brilliant film crew and ride around the planet on Harley bikes, horses and camels, jeeps and dirt bikes, hummers and helicopters as we go down the most amazing, diverse, ancient and sometimes forgotten roads... the roads less traveled... the Savage Roads...
Art galleries are sprinkled throughout the village walls and crafts as well.
We spent the morning walking around and climbing up walls to stop and talk with it's variety of artists and local residents for my first episode of The Savage Roads!
Coming soon... real bikers real adventures... vroom
All photos by: Pat Savage except for Bussan Veccia overview by: