Bussana Vecchia

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Bussana Vecchia
Skyline of Bussana Vecchia
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
ProvinceImperia (IM)
200 m (700 ft)
 • Total66
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code(+39) 0184
WebsiteOfficial 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[edit]

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 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.[1] 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.

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.


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 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 20-30 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 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.


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 its handiwork to tourists, and organizing artistic 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.

The Italian Department of State Property (Demanio) is planning to transfer 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)[2]

In March 2019, the M5S (Five Star Movement) political party threatened to begin evicting all residents of Bussana Vecchia unless the Municipality of Sanremo comes up with a plan for long-overdue repairs and maintenance by the end of April 2019, citing issues of safety for residents of the village, and in the interests of safeguarding the former ghost town for its unique tourist attractions.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Earthquake strikes Mediterranean". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  2. ^ Artists fight for Italian village, BBC News
  3. ^ Bompani, Michela (12 March 2019). "Bussana Vecchia residents risk eviction". Retrieved 29 March 2019.

External links[edit]