Bussana Vecchia

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Bussana Vecchia
Bussana Vecchia - Panorama.png
Bussana Vecchia is located in Italy
Bussana Vecchia
Bussana Vecchia
Location of Bussana Vecchia in Italy
Coordinates: 43°50′12.47″N 7°49′47.99″E / 43.8367972°N 7.8299972°E / 43.8367972; 7.8299972Coordinates: 43°50′12.47″N 7°49′47.99″E / 43.8367972°N 7.8299972°E / 43.8367972; 7.8299972
Country  Italy
Region  Liguria
Province Imperia (IM)
Comune Sanremo
200 m (700 ft)
 • Total 66
Demonym(s) Bussanesi
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code (+39) 0184
Website Official website
A typical street in present-day Bussana Vecchia

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.


Early history

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.


A marble memorial in remembrance of those who died in the Earthquake in Bussana Vecchia

The French Riviera and western Liguria are at the junction of south-western Alps and Liguria basin, a region of moderate seismicity. The severest earthquake to hit Bussana struck the region on February 23, 1887 killing more than 2000 people.[1] The worst of the damage in Bussana occurred at 6:21 on that Ash Wednesday morning, a seismic wave lasting 20 seconds caused immediate destruction and deaths throughout the village.

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 in a new site downhill called Bussana Nuova (New Bussana). The old village was abandoned and all of its buildings declared dangerous.


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, sicilian painter, and a group of artists, the Community of International Artists (now International Artists Village), decided to move to Bussana Vecchia. The spirit of the organization was somewhat idealistic: to be able to live simply and to work artistically within the village.

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 twenty to thirty people by 1968, mostly hippie artists coming from all over Europe (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 sent to the village to enforce it. When the police forces arrived, they were faced with the villagers behind their barricades refusing to leave and by a large group of international news reporters. The police decided to avoid confrontation.


During the last sixty years, Bussana Vecchia has been saved and rebuilt by its new inhabitants following an earthquake that destroyed the village in 1887. The International Artists Village was born and despite periodical confrontation 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 its handiwork to tourists, and organizing artistic events. The artists and craftsmen, who live and work in Bussana Vecchia, made it to 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 calling the rebuilders of Bussana Vecchia ‘occupiers’ instead of praising them for reconstructing the village and keeping it alive. Fear arose that the "Bussanesi" might loose their houses and homes that they rebuilt from the ruins.

The Italian Department of State Property (Demanio) is planning to transfer the full responsibility for Bussana Vecchia, starting from 2018, to the City of Sanremo.

To be unified, Bussana Vecchia Resilient was created a few years ago by the artists. At the end of December 2017 the association started a petition to "Save Bussana Vecchia" (via Change.org)


See also


  1. ^ "Earthquake strikes Mediterranean". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  2. ^ Artists fight for Italian village, BBC News

External links

  • Article on Forbes.com about the Set Up of the Google Street View Project
  • Exclusive Google Street View Gallery
  • (in Italian) BussanArte official website
  • (in Italian) Bussana Vecchia official website
  • (in Italian) Bussana and Bussana Vecchia website
  • (in Italian) The first Bussana Vecchia website, created in 1995
  • International Artists Village official site
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