The Beautiful Pizzo

Pizzo (also known as Pizzo Calabro), count 9,264 inhabitants, it’s a modern city, a resort famous for its beaches, picturesque coves full of rocks, for its clear sea, its blue sky, its picturesque historic centre, the streets and the squares with its characteristic overlooking like the prow of a ship, lying on the rock of tuff in the mirror of the sea. Surrounded by fragrant orange groves. Pizzo is famous for the production of “Tartufo” and ice cream for the quality in general, so much so that Pizzo is defined as the city of ice cream. It would be wonderful just to visit the Aragonese Castle and the many churches including the Piedigrotta’s Church dug into the tuff.

Pizzo (the town is known as Pizzo Calabro but officially Pizzo only), it’s an Italian town that count over 9,000 inhabitants in the province of Vibo Valentia, the city is famous for its “Tartufi”.
It is situated on a promontory, washed by the Gulf of St. Euphemia in front of Stromboli’s island.

The History

It was founded by Nepeto in ancient Greece. In fact, the inhabitants are called napetini or pizzitani.
The castle bears witness to the Aragon’s presence in the fifteenth century.
In this place, in the Aragonese castle, Joachim Murat was imprisoned and later sentenced to death, He was King of Naples and brother in low of Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was shot on October 13th, after a few days of imprisonment and a process done in the main hall of the castle.
Today, the Aragonese castle of Pizzo is named Murat Castle. Inside the castle there is the Provincial Murat Museum.
Murat was then buried in the St. George’s church.

Foto Pizzo CalabroGioacchino Murat

Born in France to La Bastide Fortunière March 25, 1767, his father was an innkeeper,it seems to be destined for a church career, but flees from the seminary and began his military career, where he distinguished himself immediately to the ability of a knight and his martial temperament. After an unfortunate beginning, caused by an act of insubordination, his military career is fast and full of laurels; February 8, 1792 appointed the National Guard, Captain in April 1793 and Napoleon’s aide-de-camp with the rank of brigadier general in May 1796. He still has the opportunity to prove his courage and his ability to drive in the various battles of 1800 in Italy, especially during the Battle of Marengo June 14, 1800. A year after marriage (January 21, 1801) became father of Achilles-Charles-Louis-Napoleon and at the end of the same year comes the long-awaited charge of general-in-chief. On April 25, 1802 the second child Maria-Letizia-Josephine-Annunziata was born, and on January 16, 1803, with the birth of Luciano-Napoleon-Charles-Francis, Murat became father for the third time. Back in France, having been acclaimed and praised his native La Bastide, was appointed governor of Paris, commander of the troops of the First Division Military and National Guard, and in May 1804, it also became Marshal of the Empire and the great admiral. On the 22 of March 1805, Napoleon gives to the sister Carolina , the “Eliseo”, for the birth of the fourth and youngest daughter Louise-Julia-Carolina and in the same year Murat has the opportunity to stand out in the Prussian campaign, which culminated with the success at Austerlitz (2 December 1805), and ends successfully with the signing of the Peace of Pressburg. This campaign is to highlight all the flaws and all the advantages of the future King of Naples; tactical errors and impulsive decisions have put at risk the ultimate success of the campaign, but the boldness and the ability to lead men into battle to allow Murat finally being considered a master of cavalry. Due to the importance of his victories, on the 15 of march, 1806, it was conferred on him by his brother in low Napoleon, Duchies of Cleves and Berg. Over the last four months of 1806 Murat still has the opportunity to demonstrate, during the campaign of Prussia, his innate ability as a leader. In Jean the sweeping charges of his cavalry shattered the Prussian army and brave and tricks to Szczecin allow the surrender of the garrison. Now the Prussian army does not give without concern to Napoleon, but the approach of the Russian army forced him to embark on a new campaign. After the glorious entry in Warsaw (28 November 1806) and some victorious battles of cavalry, they arrive to the Battle of Eylau (February 8, 1807) where the future King of Naples, driving the most impressive and famous cavalry charge (Napoleon at the end of the battle states that the battle was won by Joachim Murat). After the Polish campaign the whole of Europe is now at the feet of Napoleon Murat but must still wait to encircle a crown. After the Treaty of Tilsit in Northern Europe, the situation is quiet, but it is expected that the Iberian peninsula will be the scene of new armed conflicts. In 1807, Portugal was conquered by the French troops of Marshal Junot and on February 27, 1808 Joachim Murat crossed the border with Spain; on March 10 has occupied Victoria and on march 16 has occupied Aranda. On the 23 of March, 1808 the French army enters in Madrid, hoping to be seen by the Spaniards as a liberator; it has been instead attacked by the people, as the French stand protectors of the hated Godoy (Minister of the Spanish king Charles IV, refugee in France). On the 2 of May, in the morning, he has seen the beginning of the unrest in the whole of Madrid and only in the evening return to the French masters of the city, after hard and bloody clashes; on May 5, 1808 signing of the Treaty of Bajona between the Spanish and the French, who puts an end to the Murat Spanish countryside. By letter dated May 2-in-law Napoleon offers a choice between becoming king of Naples and King of Portugal, thus stifling the aspirations of Murat to wear the regal Spanish, given by Napoleon to his brother in law Joseph Bonaparte, who did not want it at all. On May 5, 1808 Murat agrees to become king of Naples in place of Joseph Bonaparte and so a stable boy – son of a hotel owner – get the August 1, 1808 to be proclaimed king, with the following title official “Joachim Napoleon with the grace of God and the Constitution of the State, King of the Two Sicilies and Grand Admiral of the Empire. “As a good general and fighter Murat, as sovereign, reorganized the army first, giving it the imprint of the French either as a structure and as weapons; enter into force on the legislative reforms of the utmost importance: in 1809 the “Code Napoleon” and “the French Commercial Code” and in 1812 the “Penal Code”; are set up new courts, the courts and registry offices. For public works, Murat aside a large sum annually and establishing the “Corps of Engineers roads and bridges” which has the task of their implementation. He completes the abolition of the privileges of feudalism and this favors the formation of an average landed gentry and merchant. The relations with the emperor are not so happy, there are strong disagreements generated by the enthusiasm shown by the King of Naples about the independence of the Italian peninsula. Napoleon called him to command the large reserve of cavalry in the French army in the Russian campaign, and Murat still gives evidence of loyalty to the brother in law. On the 3 of june 1812 he reaches the Grand Army Thorn, and there is the first fight to Ostrowno, where the French losses are 187 against a few thousand of Russian. After the first fighting the Russian army withdraws and no longer accepts the confrontation face to face. Napoleon did not know whether to stop organizing positions, waiting for it to pass the winter, or continue until you get to a final and decisive battle. After resting for a few days men and horses, on the 8th of August starts the French advance and at this stage there are only small clashes. Finally, on September 7, the Grand Army comes in contact with the Russian army and Murat once again proves its mettle in the battle of Borodino. The morning after the battle the Russian army is already in retreat and the French took the opportunity to enjoy a day of rest. Murat to entered almost undisturbed in Moscow; it is up to him to follow the Russian army and then return to the Kremlin where it waits for the Emperor, in Moscow for three days in flames.

The French, after waiting in vain for direct confrontation, they begin to suffer the violent charge of the Cossacks; so begins the slow and tormented retreat, culminating in a complete defeat for the arrival of the cold Russian winter. Napoleon left the command of the Grand Army Murat, but those, finding it impossible to remedy the situation, reach Caserta on the 31 of January, 1813 and officially returned to Naples on February 4.

Following another period of strained relations with his brother and Murat, He tries to save his throne through peace negotiations with the Austrians, but he has not concluded cause of the excessive demands of the king of Naples. He was becoming isolated, so he decided to join the Emperor in Germany and to fight again at his side, after a successfully breaking armistice. On the 26 an 27 of August, 1813 he fights in Dresden and on October 18 in Leipzig, but towards the end of October, Murat leaves Napoleon, who will no longer have occasion to review, to reach the kingdom of Naples, where occurs the opportunity to ally with the Austrians and the English. Murat would unify Italy under a single kingdom, but he realizes taht this dream means to have the support and help of all the powers, without losing contact with the Italian patriots Independence. On January 11, 1814 Murat signature with the representative of Austria Neipperg the General Convention of Naples, which ensures the availability of 30,000 men and obtained the recognition of his dynasty’s sovereignty over territories held in Italy. At this stage there are not clear the intentions of the King of Naples, who is hoping for an official recognition of Austria, also leaves no engagement with Napoleon and does not lose the ability to make Italy one state. Napoleon is defeated and Paris is conquered; the King of Naples, in spite of having faced the French army is not to be considered such an ally. The Congress of Vienna is restoring all the ruling houses in the territories, as they were in pre-Napoleonic period. On the 1815 Murat is isolated. After the news of Napoleon’s landing at Cannes (who left the island of Elba, where he was in exile), and providing the choice of Austria for the return of the Bourbons in Naples he decides to become the liberator of Italy. Not even having the support of the European powers and when the consciousness of the Italian people was not yet mature, the idea seems difficult to achieve and too premature, but Murat, convinced of his ideas, so a strong army of about 40,000 men (not all experienced) and General valiant as Lehi, Pepe, Caracciolo, D’Ambrosio and Pignatelli, began the conquest of Northern Italy. On March 27, there is the first clash with the Austrian army, and on March 30, 1815 for the first time in the history of our nation, a document, the Proclamation of Rimini, praising the unity of Italy and urges Italians to fight to achieve such a noble purpose. On April 3, Bologna has won, then Cento and Ferrara, but after the failure of Occhiobello wins and defeats of the divisions occupying Tuscany, Murat’s army is forced to retreat, and on April 29 in Ancona. He decided to accept the clash in Tolentino, being the best place to share with the farthest distance possible that the two Austrian armies to chase him and defeat them by addressing, as provided in the Napoleonic tactics, one at a time. Because of the fighting and desertions, the Neapolitan army was reduced to about 15,000 men (hungry and tired) and the Austrian, commanded by Baron Federico Bianchi, consists of about 12,000 men. On 2 and 3 May 1815 common Tolentino, Monte Milone (today Polloch) and Macerata see the clash of two armies, ending with the retreat of the Neapolitan army and with the final conclusion of the Murat dream to get the Italian independence. On May 18, Murat was in Naples, but is forced to leave immediately and reaches Cannes on 25th of the same month; Here he learns that it is no longer the king of Naples. Murat becomes aware of the defeat of the French army at Waterlooso he starts to travel around France and after a difficult and dangerous navigation, on August 25th he is in Bastia, Corsica.

He heard (certainly not justified if not false to lure him into a trap) that the situation in Italy is in favor of an eventual return home; Murat on the night between September 28 and 29, leaves from the harbor of Ajaccio Corsica.

After a storm, the flotilla of six boats to sail, they had to reach the Campania region, only two landed on October 8 in Pizzo Calabria. Their officiers still faithful are captured and imprisoned into the Pizzo’s castle. He is tried and sentenced to be shot by a military commission: on October 13, 1815, at the castle of Pizzo Calabria, by six balls gun, he loses his life one of the most ardent and courageous knights of the Italian history. But in Naples remains the Muratism, until 1861, when the dream is crowned by Gioacchino: the unity and independence of Italy. As evidence of the charm that had this character on the Italian patriots enough to remember that Giuseppe Garibaldi, up the peninsula in 1860 after the landing of the Thousand, pays tribute to the memory of Pizzo Calabria Murat and sends it to a dear friend, the Marquise Pepoli great-grandson of Joachim, one of the balls that killed Murat. “I send to you,” he writes, “that took the ball to the living of the brave warriors, the brave winner of the Moscow Murat, King of Naples.

The Piedigrotta’s church

Chiesetta di PIedigrotta

At about 1 km from the historic center of Pizzo, a few meters from the shore of the sea, stands the Church of Piedigrotta, the maximum expression of popular art in Calabria and example of the creative genius of southern artists. The Church was completely dug out of tuff and with a spring of pure water inside, as well as a place of prayer is a treasure trove of art made by two local artists, Angel and Alfonso Baron, who, with a pickaxe , have expanded the existing cave and others have created and then adorning a myriad of statues representing the various stages of the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Saints and the passage of time
In the church, you can see a “Grotticina”(small cave) with the birth of the Baby Jesus, the donkey, the ox, the people going to Bethlehem; in that other corner a bas-relief dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii, the priest who celebrates Mass (the priest is a self-portrait by the artist Angelo), a kneeling communicant, the faithful, the angels and the two apostles; into that cave St. George on horseback the act of killing the dragon (a tribute to Pizzo whose patron saint is); into that yet “miraculous fishing”, and then again San Francesco di Paola represented in the miraculous event of crossing the Strait of Messina on your mantle, the atrocities of war, St. Anthony of Padua surrounded by orphans, the Sacred Heart Jesus, Bernadette in prayer before Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Rita kneeling angel of death, and many other images. Everything is carved with an exceptional accuracy and similarity. The expressions of happiness, unhappiness, of emotion, of excitement that seem to emanate from the looks of these figures is amazing and wonderful thing, especially when one considers that the matter is not poor but noble marble tuff. This beautiful scenery, unique colors and changing environmental is very nice looking towards the sunset when the sun, penetrating the windows and illuminating the statues, with the darkness of the cave creates a contrast of light and shadow all around giving rise to a strong sense of dramatic beauty. The environment of the cave is magical. No noise, no sound, everything is muffled. The silence of this place is broken only by sciarbodìo of the sea which is only a few meters. Although the origins of this church, as well as for the landing of King Joachim Murat to Marina di Pizzo tells the story of a violent sea storm. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a sailing ship was sailing in the St. Euphemia’s Gulf. Suddenly the sky darkened and the sea became stormy. The sailors, all of “Torre del Greco”, made a vow to Our Mother Mary. Piedigrotta whose picture was in the captain’s cabin, to erect a column at the point where they touched the ground in the event of salvation.

The ship, while was fighting tenaciously against the fury of the waves, was thrown against the rock and went to pieces. Among all tumbled timber, between sails and rigging, just a single thing went to lean on the beach intact: the painting of the Madonna. The sailors, in keeping with the promise made a pit dug in the rock, and there deposited the sacred image promising to return and erect, as promised, a votive chapel. The Local fishermen, fearing that the place may be too exposed to the waves, withdrew the framework and deposited the picture in a cave nearby, but less exposed to the elements, and they have built a small altar. One day, in the morning,, however, after a violent storm at night, the picture was not found in its place: the sea had flooded the cave and took away the image sacred recovered after a few days in the same place where it was first found.

The fishermen decided, therefore, to dig into the rock, where she hit the ground the first time, a cave with a small altar was placed where there was the picture of the Madonna. Later it was also erected a small tower and the bell was placed on the ship, dated 1632. For about two hundred years the Piedigrotta’s church was this. Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, Angelo Barone fascinated by the tales that the fishermen of the small village of Piedigrotta told about the incident, he heard in the animated that he had to do something to honor that event. A Church! He had to build a church to venerate that picture. Once the small stationery has been abandoned, he moved on the hill overlooking the sea to dig into the tuff three meters high from the point where it had been left by the sea twice, the picture of the Madonna. It was hard work that led to Angelo Barone only with pickaxe and spade, succeeding little by little, year after year, to obtain a cave large enough to downtown and other I created the two sides taking care to leave, here and there, big blocks of tuff, which he sculpted, over the years, a myriad of statues of simple but poignant beauty: the Nativity with its crib, the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, scenes of sacred history and episodes from the lives of the saints. Angelo Barone went ahead like this until the spring of 1915. Worn out by fatigue and accomplished by the years, dying, he retired to his small home and it is said that from the little church came up to the town, for the duration of her agony, slow strokes with no one I pulled the rope.

When Angel died, even the bell suddenly and mysteriously stopped playing, to the astonishment of the whole population. Alfonso Baron spent 40 years of his life, sleeping in that damp chapel, just being content to poor and frugal breakfast. Dying, he left blocks to be carved. No one, however, picked up his tools.

In 1969, the sculptor Giorgio Barone, nephew of the two artists mentioned, on his return from Canada, partially restored the statues carved into a corner and two medallions depicting Pope John XXIII and John Kennedy. Since then, the Church of Piedigrotta has been entrusted to the custody of a good fisherman who was not an artist and then e corrosive effect of salt has meant that in many places the tuff has crumbled. The Church, witness of faith and miraculous beauty, it’s now a destination for thousands of visitors and it’is the biggest tourist attraction of Pizzo. It is open every day and is celebrated Mass on July 2nd, anniversary of the Madonna delle Grazie at the end of a novena beginning on June 23. The Church of St. George the Martyr is located in the heart of the historical center of Pizzo.

Built in the second half of the 500 on the foundations of an earlier church, it’s the first and oldest church of the collegiate Diocese of Mileto. Solemnly consecrated in 1587 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. George, as reported by the inscription on the lintel, which bears the date 1632, the Church has a Baroque façade with beautiful marble portal, sculpted fountain, decorated with a gable containing the round with the relief of St. George on horseback slaying the dragon, and in the second floor, the princess and a tower on the rock. To the left there is the coat of the De Mendoza, Lords of Mileto and, on the right, the coat of arms of the city. The church, severely damaged several times by earthquakes, was subjected to wide and extensive reconstructions.
Until the eighteenth century, it had two tall towers, which were then cut off the spiers and towers shortened, due to their precarious stability and low resistance to earthquakes. On the one on the right there is a mechanical watch sound of the nineteenth century, the company F.lli Solari and in the left three bells in bronze, large, medium and small, the first from 1727, the other recast respectively in 1879 and 1929 .

The interior, which is wide and majestic, is a Latin cross, with a nave, a transept topped by a dome at the intersection with the main nave, resting on the side arches with Corinthian pseudocolonnato.

The high altar in polychrome marble (XIX century). n the church are preserved marble statues of excellent workmanship: St. Anthony of Padua (XVI), Madonna with Child, traditionally revered as the “Madonna del Popolo” (XVI century), from the ancient Convent of St. Anthony, which was destroyed by the earthquake of 1783, both of the school Gaginis; St. John the Baptist (photos) (XVI century), from the Monastery of St. Augustine, destroyed in 1783, is traditionally attributed to Pietro Bernini; St. Catherine of Alexandria (photo) (XVI) by the sculptor M.Carlo Channel; St. Francis of Assisi (seventeenth century), from the Convent of St. Anthony, unknown author. And again: marble slab with bas-relief depicting the Pietà and rear with God the Father (1st half of the 500), Bartolomeo and Antonio Berrettaro. Numerous paintings, oil on canvas: the Annunciation (seventeenth century) and St. Francis of Paola (seventeenth century, dated 1717), author unknown; Madonna, known as “La Salvatrice” (XIX century, dated 1832), a gift of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon and the work of painter Michael Foggia; Christ in glory (XIX century), dated 1833) of Brunetto Aloi, a painter of the school of E.Paparo;
The Miracle of St. Nicholas of Bari (XIX century), the Neapolitan school; Baptism of Jesus, round inserted into the baptismal font (XIX century), the Neapolitan school; Santa Barbara, Praying Angels, Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii and medallions, the early ’900, respectively A.Barone of Zimatore and Grillo, of A.Barone and Zimatore. In the area of the apse: St George on horseback (1923) and The Last Supper (1925), and of Zimatore Grillo.
On the ceiling of the nave: the Martyrdom of St. George (1825), and E.Paparo of St. Cecilia (1924) Zimatore.,
On the sides of the arches: Via Crucis in ceramics (1973), the sculptor G.Curatolo.
On the 1st altar to the right of the Church, it houses a wooden crucifix, by the late eighteenth century. In the adjoining Anna’s chapel, it also keeps a precious wooden crucifix of 1400, traditionally known as the “Father of Rock”, from Angitola Rocca, the fortress city since disappeared.
In the church is buried the poet and scientist Anil Anthony, born in 1869 in Pizzo.
In the basement, in one of the mass graves of the nave, namely the 3rd, starting from the entrance, was buried the king Joachim Murat, after the shooting took place in the castle of Pizzo October 13, 1815.

Sea’s museum

In the Pizzo Marina’s area, close to the seafront you can find this wonderful museum of the sea.
The Maritime Museum is divided into two sections:
the first contains various tools for the construction of the boats, as well as fishing tools;
the second is all about the sea and hosts shells, sponges, corals, crustaceans, and some cetacean skeletons and stuffed sharks.