“Clothing optional beyond this point” is not the typical sign you expect to see in a ghost town but it doesn’t feel out of place in Bussana Vecchia, a tiny hill town in Liguria, Italy, that was abandoned after the earthquake in 1887. The chronicles report that the natural disaster happened on Ash Wednesday, and almost all the inhabitants were in the cathedral when the roof collapsed and killed them all.
We found it by pure chance, while going to Provence, thanks to a brown signboard on the national road. Brown signs in Italy usually lead to beautiful places with a history and we always check them out on Wikipedia so that we know whether a small deviation is worth it.
You can bet that from the moment I read the magic words “ghost town” I knew that we should visit it and wondered why I had never heard about it before, since I have googled several times the above mentioned term.
We reached it after a steep 10 minutes walk from down the road, only to discover, once at the top, that there was also a way to get there with a car. But a little bit of legs workout never hurts.
The first impression was unique: well-groomed hens walking freely around, with ruins of medieval buildings as a backdrop and a loud music coming from an all-kind-of-objects shop.
Venturing further into the narrow streets of Bussana Vecchia, we saw some galleries and artsy shops, selling clothing and jewelry, rigorously handcrfated by the local artisans. There is actually a small community of international artists who settled down a few decades ago, occupying the most preserved buildings and bringing life to the town. From what I read on the web, there is some kind of legal battle between them and the local authorities who want to either evict them or make them pay a rent.
I really hope they could stay because the atmoshpere that reigns in Bussana is something I have never experienced before – somehow nostalgic and hipster in the same time.
Here are some photos from Bussana Vecchia, if you are anywhere near the French/Italian coastal border don’t miss it!
P.S. If you like ghost town check out my experience in Craco, Southern Italy.