The History of the little Pirate´s House
Welcome at our “Ca´ du Pirata” (Ligurian dialect) in Monterosso al Mare!
This romantic 600-year-old house, built against the city’s 12th Century Medieval wall, has certainly borne witness to crusty fishermen, hard-working wine growers and dreaded pirates climbing up and down the narrow streets and stone stairways of Monterosso al Mare.
Was it really a pirates´ retreat? Maybe…!
In the 16th Century, the Ligurian coast fell prey to pirates who sacked and plundered towns and villages in the Western Mediterranean, including Monterosso al Mare. While some villagers hid high in the hills during the attacks, among what is now terraced vineyards and olive groves, others were captured as slaves.
One of the most feared marauders was Torgut Reis, also referred to as Dragut. On July 8th, 1545, Dragut and his flotilla of 15 ships plundered Monterosso, which at the time had about 300 inhabitants.
The feared pirates torched the light and dark striped 13-century Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista with the residents inside. The church is located just steps away from the foot of our own stone stairway.
Gradually, villagers and the government in Genoa built 13 watchtowers, including the bell church’s tower, as part of the city’s defense system. The Torre Aurora, also erected in the 16th Century, is just a two-minute walk from our Pirate’s House.
The name of our little house is dedicated to this dark, but very fascinating part of the history of Monterosso al Mare. Each July, the city also commemorates this episode of their history by celebrating the “Festa Dei Pirati.”
For the past centuries our little Pirate´s House was inhabited by fishermen families. Until the mid-1960s a local family lived here with five family members, despite its size.
In 1968, my parents purchased and renovated it. I spent many a summer as a boy on the steps playing and greeting passersby on their way to the monastery.
I renovated the house recently.
During the renovation, we found that the back wall in the kitchen adjoins the 12th Century city wall. We left part of the kitchen wall exposed so one can see the original facade and an archway (built of black rocks) which was used as an entrance gate to medieval Monterosso al Mare.
In addition to the historic archway in the kitchen we had uncovered many layers of mortar and stone bricks blackened from fire, which originated in the Middle Ages, when Ligurian people prepared their food over an open fire in their houses.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy our little home, it’s romantic views overlooking the roofs and vineyards and the stunning silence (even during high season).