Italy Trip

Legend of Cristalda & Pizzomunno

20 beaches stretch 18 miles of coastline in Vieste, Italy making it one of the best beach towns in Puglia. Why Scialara is 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 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, 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 of that to say, we already had a game of telephone going before stepping foot on Pizzomunno Beach.

The Legend of Cristalda & 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 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.

Soft & Sandy Scialara Beach at Sunset
Soft & Sandy Scialara Beach at Sunset

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. 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.

“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 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 that 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 drag 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.

There are countless variations of the Legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno floating around Vieste. Yet each one is anchored in reality thanks to Pizzomunno, a stunning 25-meter-high limestone monolith that makes Scialara one of the most popular beaches in Vieste.

Local superstition goes on to say if you make a complete tour around Pizzomunno, you will return to the town of Vieste!

Pizzomunno Monolith on Scialara Beach in Vieste, Italy
Pizzomunno Monolith on Scialara Beach in Vieste, Italy

Needless to say, I walked around Pizzomunno several times and have dreamed of returning to Scialara beach in Vieste ever since.

References

Il Pizzomunno

3 comments

      1. Not yet! Honestly if I have to go in the winter I really won’t mind. I’ll put up with weather over crowds any day of the year

        BTW I got your email! I will respond as soon as I can. I’ve had quite a busy week and it’s been stressful but hopefully once I move to my new apt it’ll be good haha

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