An earthquake hit Bussana Vecchia on February 23, 1887, the first Wednesday of Lent.
The parish priest had just uttered the formula – “Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you will return” – to the last worshipper who was waiting, his head down, to receive the blessed Ashes, when the earth suddenly started shaking, and made that ‘memento mori’ palpable, turning it into an instant reality for most of the town’s people, who were crowded in the church. Only a few minutes later, the village was a pile of rubble. And then all was silence. And dust.
Bussana Vecchia was evacuated and completely abandoned, and waited over fifty years to resurrect. It was with a Turin-born ceramist, Mario Giani, known under the pseudonym Clizia, that the settlement started to slowly come back to life: in 1959, Giani suggested establishing here a colony for artists from the world over. His idea would take on shortly after.
In the following decades, alternating between periods of quiet and creative bustle, Bussana was completely rebuilt; today it is an incredibly interesting village where various artists live and work.
Here something that seemed to have crumbled into dust beyond all remedy was put back on its feet by art.