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!

November 22, 2012

Restoring the Charm of old Pizzo

new scenic piazza - in progress - in Pizzo old town

With great interest we have been following reports from Pizzo about the recent public renovation projects of the historical center, centro storico. The new major,  Sindaco Gianluca Callipo, a young motivated citizen of Pizzo sees Pizzo's potential. During the election campaign he promised - among others - to finally start long awaited projects to restore the charm of this picturesque village.

We are pleased to see, that the renovation of the alleys - an off-road car almost was necessary to pass - finally started.

uneven cement used to cover the original black lava stones for many years

Via Paladini belongs to the oldest part of Pizzo
getting messy for many months...

The narrow alleys, i vichi, of  the oldest quarter of the village, Carmine, which is just in front our doorstep, will be renovated by removing all asphalt and concrete and maintaining the old original black lava stones. The areas where the original stones have been removed in the past, will be restored using old stones taken from two other streets in centro storico. To complete the work in the other streets, they will use new stones similar to those used in some parts of the Piazza della Repubblica.

the street next to Chiesa San Giorgio will get newer stones

Another project that has progressed fast, was the demolition of the old elementary school. The school and the school yard was abandoned for years. But there was never enough money to proceed with the plan to remodel this area into a public piazza with sea views over La Seggiola bay.

demolition of the yellow old school building
future scenic piazza with views over La Seggiola

I can't wait to see and feel the new "face" of Pizzo. It is all happening around our house. Some neighbours will be very happy since they gain sea view! And I am very curious to see if Pizzitani will use the new piazza - or will they remain "living" in Piazza della Repubblica, their famous "public living room"? Will only tourist sit down and enjoy the view? Will youngsters hang out their all night? Or will it end up as additional parking space?

Identita Nov 2012, page 4

Well, I trust the team around Gianluca Callipo as they have a passion for art and culture. The actual restoration is a huge improvement for all inhabitants and visitors of the centro storico, especially in the old quarter Carmine. It is giving back the charm to Pizzo, as titels the newspaper Identita (Nov. 2012): "Partiti i lavori per restituire fascino al centro storico di Pizzo"!

Photo source credit: Angelo C. - Grazie for the update!

Update: Progress of street pavement in April and June 2013
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