June 13, 2007

About Pizzo

The name of our new 'hometown' is Pizzo - Pizzo Calabro, in the Province of Vibo Valentia (VV) in Calabria. An easy name to remember, like pizza but with an 'o' at the end. This old picturesque village in the South of Italy has about 9.000 inhabitants, 14 ice cream parlors and 10 churches. It is located on a rock about 54 meters above sea level in the middle of the bay of San Euphemia at the beautiful Thyrennic coast of Calabria.

In the historic center of Pizzo are many medieval houses and some noble 'palazzi'. Its little alleys, some of them wind down to the sea, remind me of Santa Lucia, the old town of Naples.

Beside its many churches, Pizzo's sight is an old castle, build from Ferdinand of Aragon in 1486. It is called 'castello Murat', because Napoleon's brother-in-law, Joachim Murat was imprisoned here and executed in 1815 for trying to re-conquer the kingdom of Naples.

The more peaceful part of the history tells that Cicero rested in Pizzo and used to call his favorite beach 'La Seggiola' (the chair), which was also a place of rest for Saint Peter, while traveling towards Rome. Long before that this area was one of Ulysses' landing places.

We used to come to Pizzo for the famous ice cream, 'il tartufo', that was invented here in that little village and is famous all over the world. It is a hazelnut ice cream ball stuffed with fine liquid dark chocolate. And its covered with chocolate powder. A calorie bomb, unfortunately, after that we used to walk up the main pedestrian shopping street and back across the 'Piazza della Repubblica' back to the car.

Only since we were interested in buying the house and after having done so, I researched about Pizzo and his history. I was surprised how much this little village had to tell. If Ulysses, Cicero and Saint Peter had liked that place we would not be too wrong. And our house seemed to be protected by the most respected priest in Italy: Padre Pio, whose statue stands just in front of our door. In fact, we are sharing a little piazza with one of the ten churches, la 'Chiesa del Carmine'. On the church's wall I found a plate stating that this church was erected on a former chapel, that itself was built in the 16th century by coral fisher from the Amalfi Coast. - Wow! - Can you imagine, how much I was enchanted? Coral fisher from the Amalfi Coast came here, dived here, probably in the sea and grotto beneath our house. They were probably a bit homesick and the rock reminded them of their home. So they build a little chapel right their. This place feels so romantic. Later I read that the Italians call this part of the coast also 'Costa degli Dei', the 'Coast of the Gods'. Although, Pizzo is just the start of it and the better part comes further South around Capo Vaticano, I felt, like this must be the right place for a second home.

Have I told that my husband is born just 4 km further in Vibo Valentia and has been going to kindergarten in Vibo Marina? So it is a coming home for him.

The people in Pizzo, the 'Pizzitani' or 'Napitini' are so friendly. Not to compare with the enterprising people in the more famous tourist town Tropea that is about 34 km further South. Pizzo and Tropea are like the little duckling and the snobbish swan (I am not saying ugly duckling, as Pizzo is not ugly, it has lots of potential). To me Pizzo seems more like a sleeping beauty. The mayor of Pizzo could kiss it awake. Lots of project seem in the pipeline to boost tourism. But also infrastructure is needed. Traffic, parking, beach and hotel situation is not the best. But it has its charm. And too many tourists can spoil. I prefer Pizzo many times before Tropea. And I am not the only one.


  1. Sigh! Must, must, must visit Italy one day. Thank you for these wonderful posts.

  2. I love the priorities: ice cream vs. churches. I guess ice cream is a little bit of heaven on earth. Your description of the ice cream is delicious! The rest of the post wnderful as well.

  3. Ciao ragazze,
    would you like to read a post with my mother-in-law's Tiramisu recipe?
    I thougt big Italy fans like you might enjoy some sweet desert.