Reenactment of Murat's landing, capture and execution at Pizzo
Rievocazione storica dello sbarco ed esecuzione di Giacchino Murat
Pizzo (Vibo Valentia, Calabria region)
Pizzo, also known as Pizzo Calabro, is a charming seaport and town located in a stunning position, on a steep cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Santa Eufemia, in Calabria region, in southern Italy. Pizzo boasts an enchanting downtown made of a picturesque network of narrow but lively lanes, bustling with everyday Calabrian life, a small harbour, and a pleasant seaside promenade. According to tradition, Pizzo was built on the ruins of Napitia, a colony founded by the ancient Phocians, who survived the massacre of Troy and settled there, attracted by the pleasant location. The city flourished as one of the main centre of the former Magna Grecia.
Pizzo was then destroyed by the Saracens in the 4th century AD, but the survivors managed to rebuild the town in the early 10th century. The rebirth took place during the 14th century when a community of Basilian monks settled in the area and founded a monastery. The town of Pizzo is today famous for the production of raisins and tuna oil, the maritime woodwork still according to ancient techniques, the fine ceramics and sea coral artisanry, and last but not least the tasty local cuisine with the famous “truffle" chocolate ice cream. The territory features also several natural sea caves, including the so-called "cave of the Saracen", which was supposedly used by the Saracen pirates to store the booty and people captured during their coastal raids.
Pizzo got its place in history thanks to the figure of Joachim Murat, the brother-in-law of Emperor Napoleon, Marshal of France, Grand Admiral of France and King of Naples, who was imprisoned for several days in the local 15th century Aragonese castle and then sentenced to death. After Napoleon's fall Murat fled to Corsica, where he was joined by around a thousand followers. After receiving false news that in Naples the situation was favourable to his possible return, and hoping to regain control of his former kingdom, Murat left Corsica island in the night between September 28 and 29, 1815, aiming to the shores of Salerno. But after a heavy storm, the fleet got seriously damaged and reduced from six sailing boats to two, and had to divert to Pizzo of Calabria, where on October 8 Murat and his troop disembarked.
Murat attempted to rally support in the town square, but things went wrong, the crowd got hostile, he was attacked, and after a short combat, Murat and his few faithful officers were captured and locked in Pizzo Castle by the local garrison of King Ferdinand IV of Naples of the Bourbon House. Murat was then put on trial for treason by a military commission, and eventually sentenced to death by firing squad. When the fatal moment arrived, Murat walked with a firm step to the place of execution, stood proudly towards the soldiers, and said the words that got immortal: “Soldiers! Do your duty! Straight to the heart but spare the face. Fire!”. Joachim Murat was executed on October 13, and possibly buried in the church of San Giorgio. The castle, which is today called Castello Murat, is home to the Murat Museum.
Every year in October the Joachim Murat Cultural Association organizes a wealth of events to honour Joachim Murat. The week-long rich programme features historical dinners, lectures, crafts market, religious and civil ceremonies, music concerts, theatre shows, a majestic parade in faithful historical dresses in Pizzo downtown, themed exhibitions, many other leisure and educational activities for adults and children, and, of course, historical re-enactments, including military drills and manoeuvres, skirmishes between Murat's troopers and the soldiers of the Bourbon army, as well as the landing, capture, trial and execution of Joachim Murat.
Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.
Info & Contact
Associazione Culturale Gioacchino Murat Onlus
Tel./Fax: +39 0963 532218
Address: via Nazionale 98 bis - 89812 Pizzo (Vivo Valentia), Italy
Pizzo calabro Town Council
Tel.: +39 0963 534289
Fax: +39 0963 531166
Pizzo Calabro web portal
Image: Associazione Culturale Gioacchino Murat Onlus
Text sources: Associazione Culturale Gioacchino Murat Onlus, Wikipedia, Pizzo Calabro Town Council
Pizzo Calabro on Google Maps:
Video reportages and promos of the event:
Flying over Pizzo Calabro:
Images from the 2006 movie "Fire at my heart" (original title "Fuoco su di me") by Italian film director Lamberto Lambertini: