Between 1162 and 1177 Bussana fell under the domain of the counts of Ventimiglia. It was in this period that Count Ottone built a castle at the Northern End of the village. One century later Bussana passed to the Marine Republic of Genova, although throughout these changes Bussana was continually fighting for its own political and cultural autonomy. This seemed unlikely to be granted to such a small community - only 250 inhabitants - nevertheless autonomy was duly granted in 1429 and continued until the end of 1928.

It is believed that Bussana was fonded in the period of the Roman Empire its ancient name being Armedana or Armedina. In 641 A.D. the local coastal inhabitants, as a result of invasions by the Longobardi, took shelter in the Armea valley area where they lived until the second half of the tenth century when they were again repeatedly attacked, this time by the Saracens. The survivors from these attacks moved and constructed their houses in a defendable fort like group on the top of the hill.

 

THE TERRITORY

Bussana Vecchia ( Old Bussana ) is a small mediaeval village situeted 8 km north-east of San Remo ( Liguria ) in northern Italy. The area surrounding the village is changing rapidly through intensive redevelopment with the expansion of the green-house flower cultivation and because San Remo' s City Council have designated this territory in the general plan as an industrial area.

 

 

THE ORIGINAL FORMATION OF THE VILLAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the inhabitants were in the Parrocchiale Church, the collapse of a wall in front of the facade of the church warned the congregation of the danger; they tried to take shelter in the lateral chapels, but another sussultory earthquake made the heavy roof of the church collapse killing a number of people.

 

The situation in the rest of the village, particularly in the upper part - Le Rocche - was even more serious. The houses on either side of Via Rocca and Via della Volta were completely destroyed burying the inhabitants. In the northern section of Le Rocche over 100 people remained trapped as the arched vaults over the streets collapsed, blocking the streets and thus their exit.

The severest earthquake to hit Bussana struck on the 23rd of February 1887. This 'quake affected the whole of the ligurian coast and inland villages, but the worst damage of all occured in Bussana at 6.21 on that Ash Wednesday morning, a twenty second 'quake caused immediate damage and deaths throughout the village.

 

As a precautionary measure after the earthquakes of the first half of the 19th century, small arches were constructed, bridging the streets to reinforce the tallest houses although the arches offered little protection against the 1887 earthquake. he houses were distributed in a circular fashion around and down from the castle, interrupted by an occasional larger house. Most buildings had two or three floors with some exceptions oh four floors, the ground floor being used exclusively for agricultural and craft practices, the upper floors as living accomodation

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In the 15th century there a period of major development using, instead of the squared well shaped stones typical of the Roman period, rounded stones brought up from the river-bed or the sea. In the 16th century Bussana expanded outside the boundary walls from the Rocche to the Fascette. The Fascette was named after the territory in the south-east part of the village. All the buildings here, exept for a few pre-existing houses, date from the 16th century. Expansion being concentrated from this time on mainly in the area around the Oratorio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 23. 1887 : THE EARTHQUAKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is believed that this report was formulated with the interests of real estate speculators in mind and not the view of the villagers. There were fears of more 'quakes to come and it was repeatedly enforced that the village should remain abandoned.

The remaining villagers withdrew and camped in tents on a private field just outside the village. During this time a group of official surveyors were sent to report on the extent of the damage and stated that the damages that occurred on February 23rd added to those of the 1831, 1851 and 1854 earthquakes made supplementary adjustements impossible. The situation seemed more alarming than maybe it really was, some claimed that the church tower was about to fall, others forsaw the collapse of houses, some of which are still standing today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For half a century the natural elements of erosion took possession of the village, rain and frost penetreting the walls and vegetation teelaiming its foothold on the hilltop. The decay of the village was accelerated by man' s vandalization of the ruins as a cheap source of building materials. In 1947 the village was used as a temporary refuge by people coming up from the south of Italy looking for work, some tried to settle within the village.
For around ten years this situation continued although they were still not readily accepted by the local inhabitants who lodged complaints to the Council of San Remo which eventualy ordered their eviction and the destruction of all first floor stairways and to hole all the remaining vaults and floors, thus rendering all the houses inhabitable.

 

The authorities decided to choose a new locality to built a new village even though the majority of the inhabitants were against this, wanting to restore their old houses and expand the village so as to replace the houses that were beyond repair. The construction of the new village Bussana Nuova ( New Bussana ) was started on a new site lower than the old village on a raised plateau previously called Capo Marine.

 

The last meeting of the inhabitants in their old village took place in 1894 on Palm Sunday. After the last official cerimony in memory of the dead, they marched out of the old Bussana towards the new town singing the biblical hymn " IN EXITU ISRAEL DE AEGYPTO " abandoning Bussana Vecchia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BETWEEN TIMES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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