Villa Badessa

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Villa Badessa
Villa Badessa Church.jpg
The Italo-Albanian Church of Villa Badessa
Country Italy
region Abruzzo
province Pescara  (PE)
local community Rosciano
Coordinates 42 ° 21 '  N , 14 ° 2'  E Coordinates: 42 ° 21 '12 "  N , 14 ° 2' 26"  E
height 161  m slm
Residents 208 (2016)
Demonym Badessani
patron Saint Maria Hodegetria , Saint Spyridon
Church day September 8th, December 12th
Telephone code 085 CAP 65020
Partial view of Villa Badessa

Villa Badessa (in Arbëresh , IPA : [ ar'bəreʃ ] : Badhesa ) is a fraction of the Italian municipality of Rosciano in the province of Pescara , Abruzzo region , with 208 inhabitants (as of 2016) and one of the many historical Albanian settlements of the Arbëresh in southern Italy . The fraction, founded in 1743, is the northernmost and the only settlement in Abruzzo founded by Greek-Albanian families and is considered the "eastern oasis" in the heart of Abruzzo.

Through Law No. 482 on the Protection of Historical Language Minorities of December 15, 1999, the Badessani also belong to the protected ethnic minorities in Italy. While the Albanian language, a sub- dialect of Tosk , is now on the verge of extinction, the Eastern heritage including the Byzantine rite has been well preserved in the religious and cultural tradition .

Location and dates

Villa Badessa is 3.24 kilometers north of Rosciano and about 23 kilometers southwest of Pescara . The street village with 86 houses (as of 2016) was laid out in a protected location on a low mountain ridge (161 m above sea level) between the Adriatic coast in the east, the Gran Sasso (2914 m) in the west and the Majella (2793 m) in the south . The terrain consists of sandy and loamy soil or the erosion product of tuff .

The nearest train station is in Rosciano. However, the Badessani prefer the train stations of Chieti Scalo (12 kilometers) and Pescara because they are easier to reach.

According to the Italian classification of seismic activity , the province of Rosciano was assigned to zone 2 (on a scale from 1 to 4) and according to the climatic classification to zone D.


Villa Badessa, once a property with a house, belonged to the heavily indebted Università (Latin: Universitas) Planella [Pianella] and was sold in 1641 to Abbot G. Domenico Orsi for 2500 ducats . His nephew sold the property to G. Tedesco, who sold it on to the House of Farnese . Through the marriage of the last heiress Elisabetta Farnese , mother of Charles VII (as Charles III King of Spain), with the Spanish King Philip V on September 16, 1714, the property went to the Bourbons .


Epirus in ancient times
The Çamëria region within Albania and Greece

Villa Badessa, a small Albanian community in Abruzzo, which was founded in the 18th century, is, in view of the area at that time, much more closely connected to the officers and recruits of the Real Macedonian regiment than to emigration due to Ottoman oppression. The area around Saranda (origin of the Badessani) had long been subjugated by the Ottomans and the intolerance towards their rule certainly did not arise until the 18th century.

According to the writer Pasquale Castagna, the 25 recruits of the captain of the Real Macedone Regiment, Costantino Blasi (also Vlasi or Wlasj), waived their bonus (salary) and asked King Charles VII to temporarily accept their Albanian relatives in the Kingdom of Naples as long as the Muslim rule raged. The king accepted and provided 3,000 gold ducats to cover travel expenses from Albania to Naples.

According to Lino Bellizzi, the relatives of the soldiers came from Piqeras , Lukova , Klikursi , Shën Vasil and Nivica-Bubar . But these people were very undecided as to whether or not to leave their home and yard. The very thought of emigrating could turn into a death sentence.

On December 6, 1742, the Albanian population of Borsh and Golëm in Kurvelesh, who had converted to Islam , attacked the neighboring Christian community of Piqeras (a place between Borsh and Lukova in Çamëria) and beat their residents. As descendants and imitators of their [Christian Greek Orthodox and courageous] fathers and, although they were only 47, they resisted for six days in the Ceraunic Mountains . 27 Muslims from Borsh were killed, while no Christian lost his life. At this point the decision to emigrate was easier because it was forbidden for a Christian to carry weapons and since they had killed 27 people in the six days of bloody fighting, it was obvious that they were armed.

On December 12 or 13, 1742, the population of Piqeras (called Piqerasiotët) left their hometown. While a small group went to the neighboring town of Lukova and the surrounding area, the others moved through Lukova, Klikursi, Shën Vasil and Nivica-Bubar under the care of their Albanian papa Macario Nikàs (Nica) and the deacon Demetrio Atanasio. When they had gathered near the sea (probably near Saranda) to go to the Venetian island of Corfu, they were spotted by a Muslim who threatened to report them. One of the Christians shot the "barbarian". Led by Spiro Idrio [Andrea?] And Demetrio d'Attanasio, they quickly embarked for Corfu, where they felt protected by Saint Spyridon, the protector of Corfu. According to the Greek writer K.Ch. Vamvas, the families went to the island of Othoni, which then belonged to the Republic of Venice, where they waited for the royal ships to take them to Brindisi . While the Piqerasiotët were waiting, the De Martino brothers secretly went to Piqeras at night to fetch the icon of St. Maria Hodegetria (from ancient Greek: the one pointing the way) from the Marienkirche of the Krimanove monastery . It should show the refugees the right way. The icon can still be found today in the Santa Maria Assunta Church in Villa Badessa.

The probable emigration route of the population from Piqeras to Villa Badessa in Abruzzo

According to official documents, the Greek-Albanian families arrived by ship on March 4, 1743 in Brindisi in the Kingdom of Naples. In the Adriatic city, they were registered, became citizens of the Kingdom of Naples and made the necessary quarantine on suspicion that the places of origin were affected by the plague. In the following months of her stay in Brindisi, Don Giulio Cayafa, “ Castellan of the royal castles at sea and on land of Brindisi” , took care of her needs. He advanced money to maintain the families by buying bread, wine, and everything else that was necessary for their survival. In addition to the sums advanced by the castellan, there was financial help from Giovanni Garofano Buonocore, royal tax collector of the province of Lecce, to whom the royal court repaid part of the money between November 1743 and the following April.

Shortly after the arrival of the families, Don Giulio Cayafa contacted Josè Joaquìn de Montealegre , Duke of Salas and 2nd State Secretary of King Charles VII in Naples to inform him about the situation in Brindisi and urged the families somewhere like that to accommodate as soon as possible.

On October 12, 1743, Montealegre informed the tutor of the alloidal estates of the Farnese von Penne family , Marquis Don Antonio Castiglione , that the king had decided to house the 17 families on the Bacucco estate, now Arsita , in Abruzzo , which was dependent on the Penne fiefdom and commissioned him to give the families who were already in Brindisi the necessary support for their accommodation until the "barracks were built where they had to live."

In the meantime, the families were looking for a place to stay in Puglia, but after a summer with great heat and little water, they did not like the area. A document dated November 15, 1743 shows that the families, accompanied by the auxiliary major Don Demetrio Gicca Micheli and the captains Blasi and Pali of the Real Macedone Foreign Regiment, reached Pianella in Abruzzo after 16 days of travel. The families were housed in two houses belonging to the Farnese family on the street next to the mother church of Sant'Antonio Abate.

Marquis Castiglione issued the appropriate orders and also wrote a book in which the expenses for the Albanian colony were recorded. Of course, the decision about the cultivable place should not be lacking in maintenance: by October 1744, the 18 heads of families were given the sum of 41 Grana (plural of Grano; here: coin in the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, Malta and Spain) and 2/3 paid out regularly.

The families were led to the Abruzzo region at the expense of the Crown, accompanied by Major Hils Major Don Demetrio Gicca Micheli and Captains Blasi and Pali of the Real Macedone Regiment , where they arrived in Pianella on November 12, 1743 and waited in Palazzo Farnese to settle become.

The creation of Villa Badessa

Man from Villa Badessa in uniform, watercolor by Michela de Vito , 1820

The inhabitants of Pianella, called Pianellesi, were amazed at the appearance of the Greek-Albanian newcomers and described them as "monstrous". They were very tall, sturdy, and bearded. The Pianellesi tried to get rid of the newcomers as quickly as possible and, according to written communications between the State Secretariat and local representatives, the Greek-Albanian families are said not to have liked the Bacucco area. Apparently, however, the population of the royal fief of Bacucco should not have agreed to let the little arable land be snatched from them and to share it with the Greek-Albanian families. At this point Castiglione, the heads of the families and the officers of the Real Macedone foreign regiment, who had accompanied the group to Abruzzo, also visited Acquadosso, Santa Maria del Poggio and Rocca. These fiefs were also rejected as not being fruitful enough. So it seemed that there was no country that was pleasant to the Greek-Albanian families.

The Pianellesi, uncompromisingly against the admission of the Albanians to the adjacent rural fief of their Università , property of the Farnese family, turned to the king, who refused to listen to the residents. In his reply to the citizens of Pianella, he decided without further ado that if the previous tenant [Domenico Sabucchi] and the tenant [Blasio Taddei] could give the land to settlers, the king, as the owner of these areas, could with all the more right among them Divide Greek-Albanian families, whom he regarded as his subjects without distinction. With these words, King Charles VII expropriated the land for the Greek-Albanian families. On the other hand, the king reassured the owners of the land by granting them the right to graze and water on the undeveloped parcels of Piano di Coccia and Badessa, a right they had not enjoyed until then.

Documentation shows that the lands of Badessa had been leased to Blasio Taddei from Pianella, known by the nickname "Abbadessa", since April 24, 1703, and those of Piano di Coccia had been leased by Domenico Sabucchi since 1740. Both had divided the territory among several settlers from Pianella, from whom they received taxes.

On the other hand, Montealegre urged the Marchese Castiglione to persuade the Greek-Albanian families to give in to the last suggestion, also because it “seemed inappropriate to cling to talk and hints from people interested in them [the Greek-Albanian families] do not settle in these places [...] "Even royal patience had its limits, so it was appropriate to inform the Greek-Albanian heads of families" what great suffering their Majesty did for their actions many graces that she deigned to grant them, could withdraw [...] "

In essence, Charles VII got his way and ordered the intensive settlement of Piano di Coccia and Badessa with the Greek-Albanian families. According to the ruler's words, a larger project should emerge that should satisfy everyone: the Greek-Albanian families should found a new university . The census of the Greek-Albanian families carried out on November 13, 1743 shows that the choice of land to be allocated to the colony was based on the Pianella land holdings, more precisely on the Abbadessa lands separated from the Torrente Nora (Badessa, or Badesha in Arbëresh) and Piano di Coccia. Piano di Coccia and Abbadessa, which bordered the Università Pianella, together formed an allodial property of the House of Farnese, “[...] an extension of an area in Abruzzo Ulteriore called Abbadessa, which was sold by Giovanni Tedesco to the House of Farnese was. This area came into the possession of Charles [VII.] After the death of his mother Elisabetta , which is evident from the king's allodial archive. "

One day after their arrival on November 13, 1743, the above-mentioned revision list was drawn up. This results in a number of 18 families with a total of 73 people (27 men, 28 women, 18 children) and not 17 families as stated in the letter from Montealegre to Castiglione of October 15, 1743. The heads of the families were: Giovanni Duca (23 years old), Demetrio Atanasio (diacono) (30), Giovanni Spiro (18), Dimo ​​Lessi (40), Dimo ​​Andrea (60), Spiro Andrea (45), Ghi Vranà (60), Dimo Giocca (28), Gini Vrana (35), Giocca Gicca Zupa (25), Martin Lessi (35), Michel Spiro (18), Dimo ​​Varfi (50), Giocca Gicca Guma (35), Atanasio Dima (38), Michel Gini Atanasio (30), Michel Gini Gicca (30) e papas Macario Nica (26). (The De Martino brothers are missing, who fetched the icon of Hodegetria from the church of the Krimanove monastery.)

Villa Badessa, lithograph by Edward Lear , 1846

On March 4, 1744, King Charles VII signed the country concession document to the Greek-Albanian families. This document shows that King Charles VII agreed to benevolently accept the indicated Greek-Albanian families on his royal domain by giving them the necessary support in Badessa and Piano di Coccia, which were in the same district of Pianella and His Majesty as property of the House of Farnese: Badessa with vineyard, oak and olive grove and with a country house and Piano di Coccia with oak trees and a country house.

In addition to the allocation (donation) of a total of 793 tomoli (approx. 320 ha ), the ruler undertook to provide the families with everything they needed for farming, including animals and agricultural implements. In addition, the Greek-Albanian families received a 20-year tax exemption from every peso and censo , which as a rule each subject had to pay to the royal house. From this point on, the families should devote themselves to the cultivation of these areas, which were fallow and without sowing, in order to continue after the harvest of that year. The king also granted them 20 years of tax exemption.

An old baptismal register written in Greek shows that the first child Alessio Ngjka (Gica), son of Gica (= Giovanni) Spiro and Contessa Nicolarias (daughter of Nicola) was baptized on November 18, 1743 by the priest monk Macario Nikàs in Villa Badessa .

Church book extract in Greek from November 18, 1743

In 1748 five families with a total of 23 people were added. The heads of the families were: Dimo ​​Pali (also: Palli), Gicca Pali, Giocca Pali, Gicca Pali Micheli and Gicca Atanasio Now 23 families lived in Badessa. Further surnames of the heads of family emerge from formal documents of the time: Costantini, Lazari, Mili, Nicolarias (Nicola) and Wlasj (Vlasi or Blasi), some of which still exist today in Piqeras. On October 24, 1753, the areas were redistributed among the individual families.


Icon of Hodegetria (15th century) in the chancel ( Bema ) in the Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta in Villa Badessa
Model of Villa Badessa around 1759

There are various, sometimes imaginative, versions of the first settlement. In the most credible version, some of the Greek-Albanian families from the Contrada (Italian for district) "Abadessa" moved to the nearby Torrente Nora in Contrada Bosco in order to be able to better graze the cattle. With them they carried the icon of Saint Maria Hodegetria. But when they discovered that the Contrada "Bosco" was an unhealthy malaria area with high humidity, one of the elders explored a new healthier, airier, sunnier and more comfortable location [the current hill of Villa Badessa] and took the icon of St. Maria Hodegetria at night and put them on the newly chosen ground. The next day, the Holy Icon was brought back to the Contrada Bosco. This happened several times, until the elders decided to prefer the little hill where Villa Badessa is now. The Greek-Albanian population built the present parish church after the Byzantine architecture of the cardinal points east-west with the altar in the east and the entrance to the west and dedicated it to the Holy Assumption of Mary (Maria Assunta).

In memory of the motherland, the residents of Villa Badessa had a church bell made for the Marienkirche of the Krimarova monastery above Piqeras at the end of the 19th century (probably in Agnone ). This bell is said to have been destroyed by Enver Hoxha in 1967 under the communist regime .

Villa Badessa in the Rosciano domain files

At the beginning of Napoleon's rule in the Kingdom of Naples in 1806, Badessa was considered a "Università" and Pianella was to be incorporated. The plans were later changed and Badessa came to Rosciano with the factions of Villa San Giovanni and Villa Oliveti. The legislation on the transition from the “Università” to the municipality confirms that the Albanian municipality of Badessa had the character of an administrative unit and not just that of a group of settlers who had obtained land under concession from the landowner.

In a report from the director of the domain administration Pietro Tedesco of Rosciano on Villa Badessa dated July 21, 1810 one reads that the municipality of Villa Badessa belongs to the border communities of the domain Rosciano and that the "Università Badessa several areas of about 59 Tomoli [23.6 ha]. ”These areas were all cultivated and leased to Cesidio Colucci of Rosciano, who received fees for them from the 108 settler families. According to this report, the offers for the ordered division were submitted, which was later approved by the Commissioner of the Feudal and State Distribution of Property in Abruzzo, Giuseppe de Thomasis , by resolution of April 10, 1811. This ordinance shows that the land divided among the citizens of the Badessa municipality, around 60 tomoli in total, was granted permanently to the participants present there who had signed as an annual tax burden, payable in August of each year . There follow the usual ban on sale for the next ten years the declaration of immunity from seizure of the shares and the threat of transmission in case of default. In fact, it was about the recognition of the rights as a permanent colony on a general domain and for the benefit of the Albanians and their descendants, who had reclaimed the soil of Badessa since 1744. Obviously, the recognition of Badessa was neither due to the fact that the place was originally an abandoned large estate, nor that the settlement of the colony was apparently based on private agreements.

With the decree of Giuseppe de Thomasis of December 31, 1811, the colonists who had lived for a long time on the domain of Rosciano were declared “irreplaceable”. Further immigrations were subsequently approved through arbitration by the Prefect of Teramo by the ordinances of April 23, 1866 and October 15, 1869. With the resolutions of June 7, 1833 and June 18, 1834, the settlers' shares were incorporated into the municipality of Rosciano.

Due to its small size and the rudimentary existence of administrative structures, Badessa was renamed "Villa" Badessa.

Migration to Nea Pikerni

Approximate location of Nea Pikerni in the former Elis prefecture

In 1876/77, due to a lack of land, caused by demographic growth, tax increases in the Kingdom of Italy and the pressure of the Roman Catholic Church on the Arbëresh celebrating the Greek-Byzantine rite , 41 families emigrated from Badessa to the regional district of Elis in the Peloponnese , where each The family received from the then Greek government under Alexandros Koumoundouros 20 to 30 hectares of land in what was then the municipality of Vouprasia on the condition that they should live there for at least five years. Between Varda and Kapeleto , the newcomers founded the settlement Nea Pikerni ( Greek Νέα Πικέρνη Nea Pikerni, New Pikerni ( f. Sg. )) In memory of their Albanian hometown Piqeras . The newly established settlement quickly depopulated and was formally dissolved in 1920.

Population development

date Residents Familys
1743 73 18th
1748 96 23
1810 - 108
1853 272 47
1856 - 60
1878 - 100
1913 750 -
1921 290 -
1926 146 -
1961 561 -
1989 917 -
2003 510 -
2011 395 130
2012 270 -
2016 208 -


Topographic map of the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian of Villa Badessa differs from that of other Arbëresh places in Italy, whose population speaks a conservative pre- Ottoman Albanian language (Gluha Arbëreshë). While linguists agree on the internal characteristics of Badessanian Albanian, opinions differ regarding its assignment to certain Tuscan dialects. The language of Villa Badessa contains a large number of interferences from the Turkish language that the other Albanian language communities in Italy do not know. In addition, the number of Graecisms in Badessanic goes far beyond that in modern Albanian . The reason for the latter is that the Badessani from the opposite Corfu located Albanian coast originate. In the area of ​​Piqeras the Albanian dialects were exposed to a strong Greek influence: the surrounding places were inhabited by a Greek ethnic minority, so that the economic relations with Greece were close. Then there are the Greek schools and churches, which were not uncommon in these neighboring towns.

With regard to the assignment to Tosk, the Austrian albanologist Maximilian Lambertz suspected in 1923 in his studies of the Albanian dialects in the Italian provinces of Campobasso and Foggia ( Molise ) that the dialect of Villa Badessa belongs to Çamisch-Toskischen. Minella Totoni however, wrote the language variant of Villa Badessa 1964 the Labisch -Toskischen to. Federica Cugno, on the other hand, thinks that the dialect of Villa Badessa can be counted as Çamisch-Tuskish, even if some properties are characteristic of all languages ​​of Tuscan and therefore also occur in other variants of Arbëresh in Italy. Emanuele Giordano takes the same opinion in his dictionary of the Albanians in Italy . Other characteristics, however, point to a direct continuation of the dialects still spoken today on the coast of southern Albania.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the place had kept its identity as an ethnic island almost intact. Due to mixed marriages with "Latins" (Italians), the spread of the mass media and increasing mobility within Italy, the Albanian language has hardly been passed on to the following generations since then. The language was excluded from schools and institutions and authorities, which is why it is on the verge of extinction today. In addition, there is a massive population decline as a result of the strong emigration of the Badessani to northern Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the United States, as well as to Australia.

Welcome sign at the entrance of Villa Badessa

According to a 2005 study, it was found that only one person in Villa Badessa could speak between 50 and 100 Albanian words. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of Villa Badessa's arbëresh speakers in the past. The only available data refer to the censuses from 1901, 1911 and 1921 after the unification of Italy in 1861. While in 1921 56 out of 290 inhabitants spoke Arbëresh, in 1966 it was only 48 out of a total of 146 inhabitants.

After the last census, both during fascism and in the Italian republic that had existed since 1946, no attention was paid to the ethnic Italian-Albanian minority. As once privileged colonists, they were forgotten. It was not until Law No. 482 “For the Protection of Historical Linguistic Minorities” of December 15, 1999 that the Arbëresh were recalled into collective memory. One of the clauses of the law is bilingual education in kindergartens and schools, which is supported in Villa Badessa by projects of municipal and religious institutions in order to at least symbolically support both the lexical remnants and the cultural identity.

The Italian linguist and dialectologist Ugo Pellis , who carried out a study on Villa Badessa for the 'Atlante Linguistico Italiano' in 1929 and 1932, reported on a “miserable little place” of around 400 souls, half of whom were still Albanians with a Greek Uniate religion and the other half were Abruzzesi. Abruzzo was heard almost exclusively on the streets, and in Albanian families the younger generation preferred to speak Abruzzo.

In 1983 only three very elderly people spoke Arbëresh. The last Arbëresh spokesman from Villa Badessa died in the USA. The language is hardly present in public either; the place is not signposted in two languages ​​and street names in Arbëresh are missing. The only indicator of the Albanian-speaking tradition is a multilingual welcome sign near the entrance to the town, on which, in addition to the Italian version, the Arbëresh version can be read: “Villa Badessa - Badhesa” and “Benvenuti - Mirë se vjen”.

The "Villa Badessa case" thus differs from many other Arbëresh locations in southern Italy and on Sicily, where the Albanian language is partly well preserved to this day.


Elements of the Arbëresh tradition that are still alive in Villa Badessa are the Catholic Greco-Byzantine rite with the Typikon of Constantinople and the customs that the Albanians brought with them when they arrived in the 18th century and have been passed on from generation to generation since then .

The parish church dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta (Greek Kìmisis "Dormition of the Mother of God") belongs to the Italo-Albanian church in the Lungro eparchy and is therefore directly subordinate to the Holy See . The Holy Liturgy and the sacred songs are in Greek and Italian.


Kolymvithra in the mother church of Santa Maria Assunta in Civita

In Villa Badessa, baptism is the occasion of a great celebration and is still celebrated today according to the Greek-Byzantine rite. According to the old custom of the Eastern Church , the three sacraments of Baptism , Eucharist and Confirmation are administered together to the newborn because he is sinless. These sacraments are repeated in the so-called age of reason after a period of catechesis .

The papas meets the baptized person at the entrance to the church and asks him if he is contradicting Satan. For the person to be baptized, the godparents answer in the affirmative while they simultaneously spit on the earth in the sense of contempt and banishment of the evil forces. Then the papas blows "ánemos" (Greek: wind) over the child, which means the introduction of the soul into the body. Then the anointing takes place. The forehead, eyes, ears, hands and feet of the newborn are oiled. A prayer accompanies each part of the body touched by the Holy Anointing. Then the naked person to be baptized is immersed in the "Kolymvithra" (Greek: baptismal font in the shape of a womb), which is full of holy water.

Then it goes to confirmation. The papa anoints the baby's forehead with Holy Chrism and with the words "Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit". The chrism, a fragrant anointing oil with herbs, is blessed by the bishop on the Wednesday of Holy Week .

With Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist is also donated. To do this, the dad dips the metal spoon that is used in the liturgy in the wine goblet and places it on the lips of the newborn.

The wedding

Headdress of an Arbëresh bride by San Paolo Albanese

The British travel writer, portrait and landscape painter Estella (Louisa Michaela) Canziani traveled to Abruzzo around the turn of the year 1913/14 and reported from Villa Badessa that the parents were consulted about the marriage, and when the choice was made, the head of the family visited the family the bride and made the marriage proposal. Usually, the wedding day was set for a Sunday, and the relatives would gather at the groom's house the Thursday before. It was a great focaccia from bran prepared and hidden inside a gold ring. A boy and a girl were assigned to look for the ring. If the boy found him, the firstborn should be a boy, otherwise a girl.

Vallet dance in Frascineto , Calabria

The most characteristic dance was the Vallet dance and was performed by a long chain of men and women while a choir sang patriotic songs. On the eve of the wedding, the girls went into the bride's house dancing and singing while the bride prepared the yeast for the wedding cake. The next day the wedding cake was baked.

On the wedding day, the bride was dressed by one of the older women. The clothes of the unmarried were discarded to put on those of the married. Over her petticoat she wore a green pleated skirt called "Zoga". There were only four or five such green skirts in the whole place, borrowed from one family of another. The older and worse the condition of the "Zoga", the more happiness it should bring. A white veil with four large silver brooches covered the bride's head and body, and two pink ribbons fell on her shoulder. While the bride waited for her groom, her friends sang lamentations .

Homemade flag made of colored ribbons for the wedding procession

In the groom's house, the friends formed a wedding procession that marched to the bride's house with a self-made flag made of colored ribbons (Arbëresh: Fiamuri) on a short stick. The wedding procession was led by the next of kin. When they got to the bride's house, they found the door locked, simulating an attack and forced entry. The groom sang the song Lo Sparviero .

Then everyone went to the church, where a kind of altar had been prepared for the ceremony on a grave and the papas offered the bride and groom two crowns intertwined with ribbons. The ceremony was performed according to the Greco-Byzantine rite. The papas gave the couple three times bread with an incision in the shape of a cross and gave them the wine to taste from a goblet that he later threw on the ground. As a good omen, the glass had to shatter. This custom symbolized and still symbolizes loyalty today, and no one else is allowed to drink from the same glass.

Both wedding procession, that of the groom and that of the bride, finally moved to the groom's house, where the mother presented the bride's house keys. In the end, the bride's father gave his daughter to the husband together with a stick - a symbol of male power. Then the bride and groom came into the house singing.

Apart from the wedding dress, which was once the traditional Albanian costume, the complex ceremony has remained unchanged to this day. The Greco-Byzantine marriage rite is celebrated in two parts, which were once scheduled at different times, namely the exchange of rings, symbol of fidelity and the gift of mutual life, and the coronation rite, symbol of mutual devotion and possession.

Arbëresh wedding with replacement of wedding crowns

Originally it was the custom for the bride and groom to keep the wedding crowns indoors for eight days. During this time, they had to remain chaste and control their passions. The spirit should take precedence over the flesh.

The wedding seems solemn but complex. On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom meet in front of the church, where they are received by their dad. He asks them if they would like to marry voluntarily. After an affirmative answer, papas made a cross on the heads of the bride and groom and gave them two large burning candles. Then the bride and groom are allowed to enter the church. The papas greeted them with a new blessing with incense . This is followed by the ceremony of the rings, which were once made of gold for the men and silver for the women, to commemorate the power of the first and the submission of the second. Then the ceremony of the crowns, which are placed on the heads of the bride and groom after a triple blessing. During the sign of Holy Communion, the papas hands the bride and groom some bread and wine. The triple "round of joy" inaugurates the successful union. The dad accompanies the ritual singing and puts a corner of the stole on the right hands of the bride and groom.

The funeral ritual

Cemetery in Villa Badessa: left is west, where the Arbëreshn descendants are buried and look to the east

The Arbëresh tradition calls for putting money in the dead man's pockets, which is also what happens in Villa Badessa and even in neighboring Italian-speaking towns. Until 1962 the cemetery was in a small piece of land between the church and the rectory, where only descendants of the Arbëresh could be buried. On the initiative of Papas Lino Bellizzi, a new cemetery was opened outside the village, where there is no longer any exclusion of “Greeks” (Arbëresh) or “Latins” (Italians) and all Badessani can be buried. One difference has been preserved: the Arbëreshn descendants are buried with their heads after sunrise (east) and the "Latins" with their heads facing west.

An elderly woman in the village reported that the coffin was once carried open from home to the cemetery, where the relatives dug a grave themselves. Even today, a white cloth is placed on the dead man's face before the coffin is closed. Before the funeral, the papas doused the coffin with oil, wine and incense and threw a handful of earth on the coffin. He says: “You came out of the dust and you will become dust”. Until a few decades ago, a funeral ceremony was held among all those involved in memory of the deceased after the funeral. According to this tradition, the dead would be happy to eat and drink together in memory of them.

According to the 1914 report by Estella Canziani, the most characteristic part of an Albanian funeral was the distribution of cooked wheat and wine to all those present after the funeral. After forty days there was a funeral meal and the boiled wheat and wine for ceremonies were blessed the evening before. The burial ritual no longer exists today.

Santa Maria Assunta Church

The interior of the church of Villa Badessa

King Charles VII allowed and helped the Albanians financially to build their own church so that they could practice their Greco-Byzantine rite without being "temporarily" harassed by the Catholic bishops. According to the Albanian author Minella Gjoni, the church built in 1759 in the center of Villa Badessa is said to have looked like that of Piqeras, which was destroyed during the communist regime. The church in Villa Badessa was later dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. First dad was Macario Nica.

The religious schismatic attempt

L'incompiuta outside of Villa Badessa

Between 1887 and 1894 some Christian schismatic priests from Ancona who were dependent on the Patriarchate of Constantinople and who had noticed the activity of the Eastern rite in Villa Badessa decided to settle there for proselytizing and for a possible religious schism . The first services were held in a room in the house of the D'Andrea family, who sympathized with the newcomers. The De Micheli family gave them a plot of land for the construction of a new church with the clause, if this project was not completed, that the plot was to be returned to the donor family. The attempt at schism was the cause of bitter disputes between wealthy families and it took around ten years for the Greco-Byzantine rite to prevail within the Catholic Church. The schismatic church was never completed. What remains are the remains of the church building's skeleton, called "L'incompiuta", which was begun at that time.

The icons

Hodegetria in the Bema of the Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta, 15th century

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta houses a valuable collection of 77 Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, "written" by various artists between the 15th and 20th centuries, which are the most authentic material evidence of the Arbëreshë reality of Villa Badessa.

The oldest icon in the collection is that of the Theotokos Hodegetria , the guide. The veneration of this icon can refer to Augusta Aelia Pulcheria (450), opponent of the Nestorian heresy, who, according to tradition , had the Hodegetria church built in Constantinople . As a luminary , Hodegetria is said to have led the Greek-Albanian families to the hospitable regions of Italy.

Above the preparatory altar ( prothesis ) is the icon Akra Tapeinosis (the greatest humiliation), the image of the dead Christ. The picture was probably made in 1767, a quarter of a century after Villa Badessa was founded.

As for the sacred icons, it is known that besides the church, they are traditionally kept in families, which is still happening in Nivice today.

In 1965 the Villa Badessa Icon Collection was declared “Works of National Interest” by the Ministry of Public Education as it is the largest existing collection of Epirotic icons in Central Europe .



The community museum in Via Italia 14 with the ethno-anthropological exhibition of Villa Badessa shows, among other things, ancient traditional clothing, images of saints, jewelry made of silver and coral, ancient sacred objects and photos. World icon


Icon of the Mother of God of the life-giving spring in the Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta in Villa Badessa
  • January 6th: Solenne Benedizione delle Acque (solemn blessing of the water)
  • in January: Sant'Antonio -Feier
  • Various events are related to the rites of Holy Week
  • Good Friday procession
  • Easter Sunday: battle between the good (light outside the church) and the bad (the devil in the dark church)
  • 1st Sunday after Easter: Procession of the Madonna della Fonte (Mother of God of the life-giving spring)
  • May 1st: Gara della Ruzzola del formaggio (cheese wheel throwing in the street), a competition that also takes place in the surrounding towns
  • September 8: Procession of the patron saint of Villa Badessa, Saint Maria Hodegetria
  • December 12th: Feast of the patron saint of Villa Badessa, Saint Spyridon

Culinary specialties

Culinary specialties from Villa Badessa are:

  • Colivi (cooked "Grano cotto" flavored with oriental spices, a mixture of cooked wheat, mulled wine, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cinnamon),
  • Tepsì (mixture of wet rice, various vegetables, small pieces of meat or baccalà (salted and dried Pacific and Atlantic cod ) on a rolled-out pasta dough),
  • Pipecchio (pate made from egg, ricotta and cheese formaggio),
  • Shellira (spreadable confectionery) and
  • Nehole badessane / Ferratelle (candy made with an iron with the church symbol).

Infrastructure and traffic

Villa Badessa is a bit off the main roads. The main road connections are:


Sons and daughters

  • Nestore Palli (born August 8, 1796 in Villa Badessa; † February 13, 1882 in Torre del Greco ; buried in Poggioreale ), schismatic dad, professor of Latin and Greek at the state high school "Dante Alighieri" in Naples ; Author of the Greek grammar

People related to the place

Grave of Papas Oreste Polylàs and his wife in Villa Badessa

Dads from Villa Badessa

  • Macario Nicàs, priest monk, one of the leaders of the refugees, who accompanied them from Piqeras to Villa Badessa in 1742; first papas of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta of Villa Badessa from 1743 to 1768, year in which he died
  • Martino [di Anastasio Vlasi], Vicar (1768–1771)
  • Spiridione [Spiro di Dimo ​​Palli], Vicar (1771–1775), Papas (1775–1790)
  • Ettore Oreste Polylàs, Papas of Villa Badessa in the first half of the 20th century (born November 18, 1891 in Botosani ; † March 9, 1961)
  • Lino Bellizzi (* 1922 Frascineto ; † 2002), from December 6, 1957 Papas von Villa Badessa, founder of the church choir, defender of tradition and the identity of the Arbëresh von Villa Badessa and author
  • Luigi Fioriti, Deacon of Villa Badessa from 2000 to 2002
  • Paolo Lombardo, Archimandrite of Villa Badessa from 2002 to 2006
  • Micea Coros, dad of Villa Badessa since 2007


  • Fondazione Banco di Napoli: Mostra documentaria: L'Abruzzo nell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli . Pescara 2015, p. 60-63 (Italian).
  • Lino Bellizzi: Villa Badessa, Oasi orientale in Abruzzo. 1 ^ Edizione . Tracce, Pescara 1994 (Italian).
  • Estella (Louisa Michaela) Canziani: Attraverso gli Appennini e le terre degli Abruzzi. Paesaggi e vita paesana . 1914 (Italian, [PDF; accessed October 12, 2017]).
  • Pasquale Castagna: Villa Badessa . In: Il Regno delle Due Sicilie descritto ed illustrato . Abruzzo ulteriore I. Volume XVII , no. 6 . Pansini, Naples 1853 (Italian).
  • Minella Gjoni, Irena Gjoni: Bregdeti dhe Evropa [The Coast and Europe] . Milosao, Saranda 2009 (Albanian).
  • Giuseppe De Micheli: La comunità arbëreshë di Villa Badessa oggi: Le eredità del passato come risorsa per il futuro . Chieti - Pescara 2011 (Italian, [PDF; accessed October 12, 2017] Tesi di Laurea (Italian university degree), Università degli Studi “G. d'Annunzio”).
  • Angela Falcetta: Ortodossi nel Mediterraneo cattolico: Comunità di rito greco nell'Italia del Settecento . 2014, p. 104 ff . (Italian, [PDF; accessed October 12, 2017] Tesi di Laurea (Italian university degree), Università degli Studi di Padova).
  • Gaetano Passarelli: Le icone e le radici. Le icone di Villa Badessa . Fabiani Industria Poligrafica, Sambuceto 2006 (Italian).
  • Carmela Perta, Simone Ciccolone, Silvia Canù: Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa (= Carlo Consani [Ed.]: Il segno e le lettere. Collana del Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Moderne dell'Università degli Studi “G. d ' Annunzio . Volume 8 ). LED, Milan 2014, ISBN 978-88-7916-666-9 (Italian, [PDF; accessed October 12, 2017]).
  • Federico Roggero: La Colonizzazione di Bozza e Badessa negli atti demaniali della Provincia di Teramo . In: Francesco Rimoli (ed.): Immigrazione e integrazione. Dalla prospettiva global all realtà locali . tape 1 . Editoriale Scientifica, Naples 2014, p. 531-570 (Italian, [PDF; accessed October 12, 2017]).

Web links

Commons : Villa Badessa  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. also: Universitas (Association of All Citizens), a medieval administrative body (commune) in southern Italy that existed from 1266 to 1807.
  2. ↑ In 1856 there were 60 Christian houses in Piqeras, the residents of which spoke Greek and Arvanitika . (Leonidas Kallivretakis, p. 224)
  3. ↑ Secular clergyman in the Eastern Church
  4. Excavations from 1968 brought to light a grave site that contained a two-meter-tall intact skeleton. (Lino Bellizzi, 271)
  5. Tomolo (singular from Tomoli) is an old area measure for agricultural areas, which was used in some Italian provinces of southern Italy.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b La Frazione di Villa Badessa. Retrieved May 15, 2017 (Italian).
  2. ^ Lino Bellizzi: Villa Badessa, Oasi orientale in Abruzzo
  3. Legge 15 December 1999, n. 482 Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche. Retrieved October 25, 2016 (Italian).
  4. Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 16
  5. ^ Seismic classification of the province of Rosciano. Retrieved November 14, 2017 (Italian).
  6. Ordinanza PCM n.3274 of 03/20/2003. Retrieved November 14, 2017 (Italian).
  7. General seismic classification for Italy. Retrieved November 14, 2017 (Italian).
  8. ^ Climatic classification of the province of Rosciano. Retrieved November 14, 2017 (Italian).
  9. ^ Karl Ernst Georges: Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary. In: Retrieved May 17, 2017 .
  10. ^ Lorenzo Giustiniani: Dizionario geografico-ragionato del Regno di Napoli . Volume 1. Vincenzo Manfredi, Naples 1797, p. 2 (Italian, online version in the Google book search).
  11. a b c d e f g Aniello D'Iorio: Inizi di un insediamento albanese nei feudi borbonici
  12. a b c d e Pasquale Castagna: Villa Badessa in: Il Regno delle Due Sicilie descritto ed illustrato. Vol XVII, Abruzzo ulteriore I, fasc. 6, Pansini, Napoli 1853, p. 132
  13. a b c d e Papas Andrea Figlia: About the Albanians settled in Capitanata in Apulia, manuscript by Papàs Andrea Figlia from Mezzojuso to Papàs Paolo Parrino, rector of the Greek-Albanian seminary and pastor of the Greek community in Palermo . Naples June 12, 1764 (Italian, ).
  14. a b c K.Ch. Vamvas: Περί των εν Ιταλία Ελληνοαλβανών και ιδίως των εις Ελλάδα μεταναστευσάντων (About the Greek Albanians in Italy and especially about those who emigrated to Greece) . Parnassos Literary Society, Athens 1877, p. 24 (Greek, [PDF]). , accessed February 21, 2015
  15. a b c Leonidas Kallivretakis: Νέα Πικέρνη Δήμου Βουπρασίων: το χρονικό ενός οικισμού της Πελοποννήσου τον 19ο αιώνα (και η περιπέτεια ενός πληθυσμού) [New Pikerni demos Vouprassion: The Chapters of the settlement of the Peloponnese in the 19th century (and the adventure of a People) . In: Vasilis Panagiotopoulos (ed.): Πληθυσμοί και οικισμοί του ελληνικού χώρου: ιστορικά μελετήματα [populations and settlements of the Greek villages: historical essays] . Institute for Neohellenic Research, Athens 2003, p. 223 (Greek, [PDF]).
  16. a b c d e f Archivio di Stato di Napoli ( Many thanks to Ms. Antonietta Schimanski (descendant of the Blasi family) from Villa Badessa. )
  17. Prof. Dr. Lutfi Alia: HIMARIOTËT NË REGJIMENTIN MAQEDONO - ILIR TË MBRETËRISË SË NAPOLIT 1734 - 1861. Retrieved August 9, 2019 (al).
  18. a b Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 14
  19. ^ Letter from Montealegre to Antonio Castiglione, Penne Archive, No. 1820, Volume 8, No. 6, year 1743
  20. a b Federico Roggero, p. 545
  21. ^ Lino Bellizzi, p. 15
  22. a b c d Federico Roggero, p. 546
  23. ^ Lino Bellizzi, p. 55
  24. ^ A b c Associazione Culturale Villa Badessa. Retrieved January 6, 2018 (Italian).
  25. ^ Archives Pianella ( Many thanks to Ms. Antonietta Schimanski (descendant of the Blasi family) from Villa Badessa, who provided the list of families yur. )
  26. ^ Lorenzo Giustiniani: Dizionario geografica-ragionato del Regno di Napoli . tape X . Naples 1805, p. 195 (Italian, online version in Google Book Search).
  27. ^ Edward Lear: Illustrated Excursions in Italy . tape 1 . Thomas McLean, London 1846, p. 102 (English, online version in the Google book search).
  28. a b c Federico Roggero, p. 547
  29. Lino Bellizzi, p. 67.
  30. Lino Bellizzi; P. 78
  31. a b c Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 15
  32. Cognomi di origine albanese (family names of Albanian origin). Retrieved January 29, 2017 (Italian).
  33. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 20
  34. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 15
  35. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 20
  36. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 22
  37. Federico Roggero, p. 547
  38. a b Federico Roggero, p. 558
  39. Federico Roggero, p. 557
  40. Federico Roggero, p. 561
  41. Indice annuale per gli atti di cittadinanza, Comune di Rosciano, Provincia di Teramo, anno 1877 ( Many thanks go to Ms. Antonietta Schimanski (descendant of the Blasi family) from Villa Badessa, who provided the revision list. )
  42. Leonidas Kallivretakis, p. 230
  43. Leonidas Kallivretakis, p 233
  44. Ελληνική Εταιρεία Τοπικής Ανάπτυξης και Αυτοδιοίκησης. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on February 20, 2017 ; Retrieved February 19, 2017 (Greek). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  45. Unless otherwise stated, the numbers follow from the text
  46. a b c Leonidas Kallivretakis, p. 224
  47. Leonidas Kallivretakis, p. 225
  48. Leonidas Kallivretakis, p 226
  49. ^ Rosciano registry office
  50. Martin Camaj : Il bilinguismo nelle oasi linguistiche albanesi dell'Italia meridionale . In: AA.VV. (Ed.): Bilinguismo e diglossia in Italia, Pisa, CNR Centro di Studio per la Dialettologia Italiana . Pacini Fazzi Editore, Pisa 1973, p. 5-13 (Italian).
  51. a b Minella Totoni: E Folmja e Bregdetit të Poshtëm (The dialect of the lower coast) . In: Studime filologjike . No. 2 . Tirana 1964, p. 121-139 (Albanian).
  52. ^ Maximilian Lambertz: Italo-Albanische Dialektstudien. a) The Albanian dialects in the Italian provinces of Campobasso and Foggia (Molise). (=  Journal for comparative linguistic research in the field of Indo-European languages . Volume 51 , 3rd / 4th H.). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (GmbH & Co. KG), 1923, p. 259-290 , JSTOR : 40846828 .
  53. Federica Cugno: La parlata italo-albanese di Villa Badessa: concordanze linguistiche con la lingua della madre patria . In: Bollettino dell'Atlante Linguistico Italiano (ALI) . Torino 1999, p. 1-20 (Italian).
  54. ^ Emanuele Giordano: Dizionario degli Albanesi d'Italia = Fjalor: i arber ̈ eshvet t'italize . Edizioni Paoline, Bari 1963 (Italian).
  55. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 25
  56. Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 21
  57. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 39
  58. Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 18
  59. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 40
  60. ^ Alfredo Frega: Gli "arbëresh" dimenticati , n. 2–3, Milan, 1996
  61. Legge 15 December 1999, n. 482 Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche. Retrieved October 25, 2016 (Italian).
  62. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 42
  63. ^ Ugo Pellis, Lorenzo Massobrio, Matteo Bartoli: Atlante linguistico italiano (=  Il corpo umano . Volume 1 ). Tipografia del Poligrafico e zecca dello Stato, Roma 1995, p. 487 (Italian).
  64. Sopravvivenze linguistiche arbëreshe a Villa Badessa, p. 19
  65. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 41
  66. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 45
  67. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 44
  68. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 46 f.
  69. a b c d e Estella Canziani, p. 10 ff.
  70. a b c Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 47 ff.
  71. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 50
  72. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 51
  73. Estella Canziani, p. 11
  74. La chiesa Santa Maria Assunta. In: Retrieved January 29, 2017 (Italian).
  75. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 24
  76. a b Storia del comune di Rosciano (History of the Municipality of Rosciano). Retrieved February 14, 2017 (Italian).
  77. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 58
  78. ^ Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 56
  79. Icone di Villa Badessa. Retrieved February 16, 2017 (Italian).
  80. a b c Questionario relativo al comune di: Rosciano (PE), frazione di Villa Badessa. (PDF) In: Retrieved January 25, 2017 (Italian).
  81. Lino Bellizzi, p. 257
  82. ^ Nestore Palli: Grammatica greca del sacerdote Nestore Palli . Comenico Capasso, Naples 1815 (Italian, ).
  83. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 54
  84. Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 28
  85. In ricordo di papàs Lino Bellizzi. Retrieved May 13, 2017 (Italian).
  86. a b Giuseppe De Micheli, p. 29
  87. ^ Associazione culturale Villa Badessa