Buzzo: The Dead and the Living
Buzzo is a very, very tiny town in the mountains of Northern Italy, the sort of town where everyone has the same last name, or at least the same great grandfather. It is a very rural and remarkably beautiful little town, but it is astonishingly uninhabited, and I think it would be pretty boring to live there. But surprisingly, people still do it, they live in these little towns all of their lives, and enjoy it too. Some of my ancestors lived and died in Buzzo, so we went to visit the cemetery where they were buried.
Buzzo Cemetery, where my great great grandparents are buried.
My step-dad with his great grandfather - can you see the resemblance?
The thing I like about Italian cemeteries is that they always put a picture of the person who was buried there. It is very interesting to go around and look at everyone who has died, and sometimes you can even tell who is related to who, just by how they look.
This is my great great grandfather. The question is, are his eyes open or closed? Some people say they are closed, and some say they are open and looking upward. What do you think?
The cemetery is just feet from the down, right on the side of a mountain. These corpses have a great view! It is quite a sight to see, a very rare and absolutely stunning landscape!
The scenery from right outside the cemetery…what a sight!
Me at the cross, which stands just outside the cemetery gates.
After visiting the cemetery, we took a short walk through the town of Buzzo. My grandmother has a lot of old friends up in the mountains, because it is where her family originated from, so we wanted to see who was still alive, and if there was anyone that she recognized.
My parents walking through Buzzo, and my ten times more fit, 90-year-old grandmother way ahead of them.
“Downtown” Buzzo, if you can call it that much. This is pretty much the entire town.
This is Buzzo’s church. Every town in Italy has a church, even towns smaller than this one. Some even have more than one; the town we are staying in has three! Italians are very religious.
This was once my great great grandfather’s house, the one who is buried in Buzzo. He lived here most of his life.
Throughout Italy, especially in very small towns like this one, they have springs or wells, which come out in taps like this one:
They have these because there aren’t any stores in small towns like these. If they didn’t have these taps, people would have to go down into Borgo Val Di Taro, the slightly bigger town in the valley of the Taro River, to get water. We are staying in Borgo, which has a grocery store and many Fornos (bakeries), but it is a very long walk into Borgo from Buzzo. People in Buzzo don’t have cars, so it would be very tough to go into town to get food, especially going up the mountain with all of your shopping in hand. They are farmers in Buzzo, so they grow and raise their own food, but water isn’t something you can grow. People walk a few feet from their house to these taps with big bottles, which they fill up and take home.
My grandmother at the tap that she insists has the “Water Of Life”. Apparently drinking water from this particular tap will make you live a longer and healthier life.
The water from these taps looks pretty dirty, but it is some of the cleanest, freshest, coldest water that you can get, and it tastes great! After getting a few bottles filled up with the “Water Of Life”, we walked back through the town to visit the church, and see if we could find anyone we knew.
The bell tower of the church, it is a beautiful building.
The inside of the church, small, but even more beautiful than the outside!
The buildings in Buzzo are old and rustic. They are crumbling with age, but in a beautiful, very appealing way. It’s really fun to take pictures of the incredible textures of the old walls; there are many layers of peeling paint, flaking off to reveal concrete blocks that are hundreds of years old.
This is a wall that I thought was particularly interesting.
On our way back to the car, we ran into some of my grandmother’s very old friends, and stopped to have a cup of tea and talk with them. Of course, I could barely understand what they were saying, since I don’t know much Italian, but it was still great fun!
Some more people to add to the list of Italian people that I don’t know!
My grandmother with a friend that she hasn’t seen in years.
I had a great time in Buzzo, I am very lucky to be able to experience things like this, if I hadn’t visited Buzzo, I never even would have guessed that people lived like this! But I’m starting to have a hard time remembering who everyone is; we have done (and are still going to do) many other day trips like this to visit dead people I have never met. Yippee!
Emily Zumchak is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos courtesy and copyright Emily Zumchak