November 26, 2012

What is the Charm of an Italian Village?



What is it that makes Italian villages so charming?

Italian, French, Greek or Spanish villages, it does not matter which Southern Europe country you take, many have that attraction, that appeal. But what makes an Italian borgo, paese or villagio special?

When I blogged about the restoration projects in the historic center of Pizzo, that are meant to give back the "fascination", the "charm" to our village, I was wondering:

Isn't Pizzo already very charming? - Yes, but why do I feel that way?

Can a restoration add charm? - Or does it erase another kind of charm, the morbid charm?!

Is it a global trend that city people fell in love with the country side? 

Back to the title of that post: "What is the Charm of an Italian Village?" - I wanted to ask you, my readers to take action, to think, why you are reading this blog? Have you been in Pizzo or any other Italian village? If you have been in Pizzo, how did you find it and what did you like most about Pizzo? Maybe you are an expat in another Italian village and can describe the magic of your Italian bel paese? Maybe you are an Italian immigrant and miss your charming Italian home town. What do you miss most?

I have asked a similar question on our Facebook site. There is no need to sign up, become a member or friend, if you are on FB, you simply can leave a comment without any hassle. Or you welcome to add a comment here at the end of this post.

I will try and give you my thoughts about my Italian village, called Pizzo. Why I like that village in particular and why I was so excited to have our European home base here:

It started with the tartuffo ice cream! There are lots of picturesque villages in Calabria. But Pizzitani have invented the famous tartuffo ice cream (to honor the visit of Italian Prince Umberto I of Savoy in Pizzo in 1943). So my first visit ever to Pizzo was because of that special, big brown ball of delicious chocolate and hazelnut ice cram. It is like a must see and taste "object of interest" in Calabria. Before and after that calorie bomb, we used to walk around the piazza a bit. We looked down the "balcony" towards the Marina and the sea, watched sunsets over Stromboli, walked around the small castello - and that's it. For many summers, we only came for a gelato to Pizzo. The first time, I tried to push the baby stroller up the Corso Garibaldi, I thought, wow, there is more than the piazza! This village seems nice!

After having travelled around the world for many years and lived in different countries, I discovered one day, I am in love with this small Italian town, called Pizzo.

Pizzo has good energy

I think, Pizzo has good energy. The location of Pizzo regarding Feng Shui aspects is a very good one! It is in front of water, elevated on a rock, and protected by green hills from behind. The shore is accessible, there are protected beaches, a secluded bay, and long, long sandy beaches that spread for kilometers.

photo by  Caterina Maria Feroleto via I love Calabria

There is only one street that passes through, partly below the main piazza. Most part of the historic center is car free. A small castle thrones on the rock but does not dominate the village. There are beautiful sunsets over the sea that can be seen from all kind of spots around the village. When the air is clear, volcano Stromboli and Mount Pollino greet from far.

Around 8pm in the evening in summer, many birds fly over the piazza and then disappear again. At noon and 8pm some churches play a magic Ave Maria that echoes over the piazza and the sea. It makes me feel like in heaven. During Easter, the mass of San Francesco is aired via speaker and it sounds like the pope himself gives the "urbi et orbi" blessing.


I don't need to leave my home, just to open my window to feel the magic that surrounds that village. And if I leave our home, there is always a neighbour or friend to great on the way. A small talk here and there, I never feel alone. Everyone is in piazza at one point of the day. People are friendly, warm and smiling. Sometimes, I get a free coffee or a small conno of ice cream at the bar, which makes me feel special.

tartuffo ! photo by CC

We like the good taste and smell of all the local grown vegetable and fruit. The food just tastes so much better here in the South with lots of sunshine and mild winters. Italian food is always tasty, but in Calabria there are some special local recipes that add more spice onto your plate!

I like the long calm afternoons, when shops are closed and people stay at home, together with their families for lunch and siesta. It is relaxing during hot summer days and cozy during rainy winter.

Life in this Italian village is slow and easy. It's simple, and I enjoy that. Not always things are progressing as expected, but if you talk and talk, you find the Italian way to make it happen.

I like the old palazzi - some are restored nicely and painted in warm colours - some offer a morbid charm. It is pleasant to stroll up and down through the alleys of Pizzo and always discover something new. I like the possibility to live without a car and being able to walk everywhere. At night, I like the old lanterns that shine a warm yellowish light on the houses, alleys and piazza.


At summer mornings, I like watching the old fishermen in small rowing boats with colourful umbrellas, alone at sea, fishing until noon.

Pizzo has about 10 churches and 20 ice cream parlours. It's inhabitants, the Pizzitani, young and old, live in their village all year long. They like tourists, but they are not depending on them. That's why this village is alive all year round.

This is why I like Pizzo.


Do you like Italian villages?!  What is the most you like?


You can comment also @Palazzo Pizzo on Facebook!

4 comments:

  1. It's all that you describe and more. It's the sounds of activity that greet you as you walk down the steps in the evening on the way to the Piazza. The scenery is stunning as described but there is much more.The locals are so friendly and helpful and have made us so welcome since we first visited in 2008. We now spend about 4 months a year in our small apartment in Borgo Novo and have the best of both worlds. Also, as someone who has retired recently, I appreciate the many shops, chemist, local doctor, legal services etc that are available on the Via Nazionale. I could go on.....

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    1. Dear Angela,
      thank you for sharing your impressions. It's great to get to know some new "Pizzitani" this way ;-)
      Pizzo is a fantastic place to retire, great choice. I wish we also could spend more time in that healthy climate (another positive aspect!). And you are right, the locals make it special.

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  2. I want to live there! How lovely your description of it all....some fabulous pictures too! hugs H

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    Replies
    1. Dear Heather, thank you! You are travelling so much, I am sure we will sip some bubbles again sometime, maybe in Pizzo ?!
      ;-) hugs S

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