Sometimes my native land seems a book written in a foreigner language. An ancient door, uncannily carved, with a lock to which I don’t own the key.

Here more than elsewhere, you need to be patient to find what you are looking for: a wonderful and desert beach, a village without overbuilding, an unknown taste (farinata, panissa, bianchetti’s omlette, sacripantina… It’s better I stop here!).

You need to watch through a particular look, an instinct that prefers narrow alleys to large boulevards, hidden bakeries to restaurants, getting lost to looking for…

In the course of time, Liguria has found its narrators, its poets, its guardians. Their eyes are the best guide to discover it.
But today let them go. Today our guides will be “furesti” (the ligurian way to call the “strangers”), some of them weighed anchor from the North…

To have an idea of what they found, I’m going to introduce them through three hypothetical advertisement to which they should have answered:

AAA: village in danger is looking for a Norwegian explorer and anthropologist (blond if possible)… Renovation is needed!
a stone house in Colla Micheri (SV)

In the hinterland of Laigueglia, at the ending of Savona’s province, there a tiny and peaceful village, a sort of perfect miniature. Stones houses, narrow alleys, creeper plants, big trees and obviously olive trees. Desert also in Summer, except for few inhabitants and the patrons of the only tavern. We are talking about Colla Micheri.

Browsing around, we find an information plaque near the church. It informs us that here Thor Heyerdahl has living here for more than thirty years. A short trail leads us in Cape Mele; coming back, just after the ruins of a Saracen tower, we glimpse a colourful tile on a mound of stones. On the tile we read the name of Thor, the dates of his birth and death… and a sailer. Curiosity is becoming irresistible, we must understand who was this man.

The young Thor Heyerdahl
From the website

Thor Heyerdahl (Larvik, 1914 – Colla Micheri, 2002) was a Norwegian explorer and anthropologist who made extraordinary travels and sailings to prove his theories. He was a man who knew how to recognise the beauty; he chose this this village as his house, the Saracen tower as the place where write his books. He renovated the buildings saving them from abandon and disrepair.

Today the village keeps being inhabited and a good starting-point for several well-marked trails. Walking through these routes, passing through the pine groves, the woods of small bushes, you can admire the two adjacent gulfs and the mountain chains behind.

Our suggestion: to keep on exploring the surroundings (please don’t miss Cervo, a beautiful town really near!), here a relaxing b&b a few kilometres from the sea, surrounding by the nature and careful about the environmental sustainability!

AAA: small coastal town, renowned for its ceramics, is looking for innovative and spontaneous artists!

Jorn house from outside (Albisola, SV)
from the website
a picture of Asger Jorn
From the website

1954, Albisola. Invited by other artists, Asger Jorn, a Dane painter a little penniless, arrived in this small town of the coastline appearently not dissimilar from many others. He decided to move there with his family, and little by little the success arrived.

But those you can see in the pictures aren’t works exposed in a gallery: it’s Jorn’s house. And that’s the best: according to Jorn, architecture and daily life are melt together. It means that living in a place made beautiful, joyful and spontaneous by art has the power to improve people’s life. What the artist makes is not destined to finish in a museum, but to become a part of our daily experience. For this reason, Jorn liked opening his house to his friends, parting and eating together.

An other fascinating feature is that Jorn thought about art as the result of the melting between nature and human intervention. If you go to visit his house, you will understand immediately what I mean: shells, logs, pebbles, pieces of colourful glasses, flowers and plants, all of these is integral part of his house. Architectural, natural and artistic elements interpenetrate perfectly with each other. The result is a joyful harmony that make us feel like living these spaces (visiting the house, I kept thinking “I could do something like that at home!”).

Villa Jorn has been reopened to the public in May 2014 and belongs to the project MuDA (Museo Diffuso Albisola). The entrance is free, as well as a small well-written guide. To collect more information, you can come the culture office of Albisola (+3901940029280).

Our suggestion: a night in the agritourism Rio Lunei (Stella, SV) and a stroll in their biological farm!

AAA: abandon hamlet is looking forward to being repopulated and transformed in artistic lab!

the church's ruins from inside (Bussana Vecchia, Imperia)
Church of Sant’Egidio in Bussana Vecchia (IM). Picture by Annie Lambla via Flickr

The artistic history of Bussana Vecchia, a medieval hamlet near Sanremo, originated from an earthquake: it’s 1887 and its violence persuades the inhabitants to move a little and fund Bussana Nuova.
But the hamlet’s ruins keeps waiting until the Fifties, when something starts to change. A group of Italian and international artists moves in the village. They become more and more numerous, despite the lack of running water, electricity and drainage system.

The charter they write was ephemeral, but really interesting: anyone (for artistic purposes) could move in a house’s ruin and renovated it using just the materials that were already in the village. After three years of abandon, the house would come back to the community. It was forbidden have individual atelier: the works of each one formed the village gallery.

Today things are changed: the market-based system, the mass tourism and the problems linked to the houses’ property are no more banned from the village. Nevertheless it’s really worth exploring it, coming in the ateliers, observing the artist houses and the church’s ruin. The social life and the creativity that marked this village survive in many places and persons. We just need to learn how to watch 🙂

Our suggestion: spend a night in the ecovillage Torri Superiori: born “to oversee the restoration of the medieval village and the creation of the ecovillage, cultural centre and resident community”. It offers cozy rooms, biological food and the possibility to share the daily life of the community!

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