Remember the telephone game? Your friend would whisper a secret in your ear, you turn and whisper it on. Person to person eventually the narrative shifts and gets more fantastic and magical along the way. Learning about the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno in Vieste, Italy felt a bit like a romantic version of the telephone game.
My Husband Paolo was told about the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno the day we checked into our hotel in Vieste, Italy. Paolo is Northern Italian, the owner of the hotel was Southern Italian and spoke with a strong dialect. At the time, I spoke very little Italian so Paolo had to recount the story in English. All of that to say, we already had a game of telephone going before stepping foot on Pizzomunno Beach.
Pizzomunno Beach in Vieste, Italy
Nicknamed Pearl of Gargano, Vieste is a positively enchanting Italian destination that jets into the Adriatic on the Northern coast of Puglia. There is a special beauty and magic to Puglia. White stone walls line the town with peek-a-boo views of azure sea. Just a hint of the mythical legend that lies ahead on Pizzomunno beach.
The Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno
From what we could understand Cristalda and Pizzomunno were lovers. Sirens dragged one of the lovers deep into the sea as retribution for Pizzomunno’s refusal to be the Sirens immortal lover and king. In pain, the lovers became frozen in time over hundreds of years, one in the sea, one on the beach.
A rather romantic tale to set the scene for one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. A soft May wind sweep across the beach directing our gaze towards Cristalda… or was it Pizzomunno? Before us stood a white monolithic rock blushing in the face of the Adriatic Sea.
The memories of seeing such a beautiful sunset have always stuck with me. So much so that years later after moving to Italy, I decided to find out what the real story is behind the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno in Vieste.
Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno as Told by Max Gazzé
Perhaps no one tells the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno better than Max Gazzé in his 2018 single release La Leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno.
For my non Italian speaking friends out there “La Leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno” is a romantic story rooted in Apulian legend. Musician Max Gazzé song is that of two lovers, the sailor Pizzomunno and the beautiful Cristalda. The beautiful monolith we saw on Pizzomunno beach in Vieste, Italy is in fact the sailor Pizzomunno.
Their love was tested when Sirens fell in love with Pizzomunno. Unfortunately for the Sirens Pizzomunno was so in love with the fair Cristalda their calls went unanswered. The fact that Pizzomunno didn’t need chains or wax plugs for his ears to resist their calls angered the sirens. In retribution, they kidnap Cristalda and dragged her into the abyss. Pizzomunno remained on the shore desperate with loss. Petrified in grief Pizzomunno became a monolith.
As the legend goes Cristalda and Pizzomunno are given the opportunity to meet again every hundred years. They are once again turned human and spend the night together. At dawn, Cristalda must return to the abyss while Pizzomunno turns back to stone, for another 100 years.
If you have the chance to make it to Vieste, I highly recommend making time for Pizzomunno beach. It’s small but a mighty beauty. Now that I’ve discovered the perfect soundtrack, I’m looking forward to our own return trip!