Bussana Vecchia (Old Bussana) is a small ghost town in Liguria (Italy), not so far from the Italian-French border. It was built (IX sec.) on the top of a hill to be easily defended by Saracens. Like many other villages in the area it experienced periods of ups and downs, without ever becoming famous for a particular reason.
The reason why today is known is linked to the tremendous earthquake occured on February 23, 1887: at 6:21 AM a twenty second earth tremor caused destruction and deaths (at least 2000 people).
As a consequence of this tragedy, local authorities decided to rebuild the village, called Bussana Nuova (New Bussana), in a new site, a couple of kilometers downstream.
After the WW2, immigrants and displaced persons coming from Southern Italy started illegally settling the Old town. Despite many attempts by the Italian authorities – in the 50’s the authorities ordered the desctruction of all first floor stairways and rooftops – immigration and illegal accomodation within the damaged houses continued. In the 60’s Old Bussana became the destination for many hippie artists coming from all over Europe. And the 1968 saw barricades, protests and clashes with the police also among the alleys of Old Bussana… Today, despite in 1997 all buidings were declared property of the Italian Government, Old Bussana is a small ghost town where artists are still living, selling their handiwork to the tourists, organizing artistic events and using creativity in all daily activities (typically italian style, considering, for example, the illegal tie to the electricity grid, but this is the not-romatic part of the story…)
The interesting aspect of Old Bussana is the ghost town aura you can feel inside the narrow streets, but also the organic modernity of the built-up area. The flat roofs, the immoderate and “natural” growth of the built-up area, together with the ruins still visible around the town are charming.
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