20 beaches stretch 18 miles of coastline in Vieste, Italy making it one of the best beach towns in Puglia. See why the Legend of Cristalda & Pizzomunno makes Scialara the most popular beach in Vieste.
Remember the telephone game? Your friend would whisper a secret in your ear, and 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 in Vieste, Italy felt 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 and the owner of the hotel was Southern Italian and spoke a strong dialect. At the time, I spoke very little Italian so Paolo had to recount the story in English. All that to say, we already had a game of telephone going before we stepped foot on Scialara Beach.
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 Siren’s 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 swept 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 after moving to Italy, I decided to find out the real story behind the legend.
The Legend of Cristalda & Pizzomunno Video
Perhaps no one tells the story better than Max Gazzé in his 2018 single release La Leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno.
“La Leggenda di Cristalda e Pizzomunno” is a romantic story rooted in Apulian legend. Musician Max Gazzé’s song is that of two lovers, the sailor and the beautiful Cristalda.
The beautiful monolith we saw on Scialara beach is the sailor Pizzomunno. Their love was tested when Sirens fell in love with him.
Unfortunately for the Sirens, he was so in love with the fair Cristalda that their calls went unanswered. The fact that he didn’t need chains or wax plugs for his ears to resist their calls angered the sirens.
In retribution, they kidnap Cristalda and drag her into the abyss. Pizzomunno remained on the shore desperate with loss. Petrified in grief he became a monolith.
As the legend goes the lovers are allowed 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.
Variations of the Legend
There are countless variations of the story floating around Vieste.
Yet each one included the tower Pizzomunno. For this reason, the stunning 25-meter-high limestone monolith makes Scialara one of the most popular beaches in Vieste.
Local superstition goes on to say if you make a complete tour around the monolith, you will return to the town of Vieste!
Needless to say, I walked around it several times and have dreamed of returning to Scialara Beach in Vieste ever since.