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Vieste – The legend of Pizzomunno

If you come to Vieste, you may come across an imposing limestone monolith about 25 metres high: the Pizzomunno. It’s located at the beginning of the beach south of the town, known as “del Castello” (of the castle). And its imposing bulk almost seems to stand guard over Vieste. Its charm has made it the symbol of the Gargano town itself. A number of legends, often variations on one another, are linked to it.

It is said that at one time, when the town was just a village inhabited by fishermen, a tall, strong young man named Pizzomunno lived there. Also living in the same village was a young girl of rare beauty, with long hair the colour of the sun, named Cristalda. The two young people fell madly in love. Every day Pizzomunno tackled the sea in his boat and the mermaids would emerge from the waves to sing sweet songs in honour of the fisherman. The sea creatures did not just sing, but captive to Pizzomunno’s gaze offered him immortality several times. If he agreed to become their king and lover.

The love that the young man lavished on Cristalda, however, made the sirens’ offers vain. One of the many evenings when the two lovers went to wait for the night on the islet that stands in front of the coast, the sirens, seized by a raptus of jealousy, attacked Cristalda and dragged her into the depths of the sea. Pizzomunno ran after his beloved’s voice in vain.

The following day, the fishermen found the young man, petrified with grief, on the white rock that still bears his name. It is said, however, that every hundred years the beautiful Cristalda always returns from the abyss to join her young lover and relive their ancient love for just one night.

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