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Bussana Vecchia is a 1,000 year old ghost town near San Remo (Province of Imperia, region of Liguria) destroyed in the 19th century by a severe earthquake and now inhabited by artists.

Bussana Vecchia
Photo by Funadium/Flickr
Photo by Funadium/Flickr
History and Development

On February 23rd 1887 a violent earthquake destroyed Bussana, a small medieval village in northern Italy near San Remo. 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 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). 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.
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