When you think about Italy, the first things that come to your mind are probably the Colosseum, the Gulf of Naples, Venice Canals or pretty little villages such as San Gimignano or Positano. They surely are some of the must-sees in a trip to Italy but in this blog post we would like to introduce some of the so called "ghost towns" located all over Italy. Several years ago, they probably used to be charming little towns, but for some different reasons they were abandoned by people and now they are still standing timelessly in a very fascinating atmosphere with ruins, old churches and intriguing anecdotes where silence rules.
Highly recommended for itineraries of Italy off the beaten path and for photography lovers!
1. Roscigno Vecchia
Roscigno Vecchia (Old) is in the middle of Cilento National Park, in Campania region and represents a great example of an Italian rural village of 19th century. The inhabitants were forced to leave the villages around 1902, since it was threatened by landslides, so they relocated to the upper area, building the new town. The urban structure is very well preserved, with a central square where a fountain stands in front of the Church of San Nicola and a group of rural houses around. Interesting fact: Roscigno Vecchia is not completely abandoned since there is 1 inhabitant living there, who enjoy entertaining visitors with stories and anecdotes about the village!
Craco is near the popular city of Matera, in Basilicata region. Also here, the village was abandoned due to a terrible landslide in 1960: the inhabitants moved toward the nearest village, so Craco has been left on its hill at the mercy of the surrounding nature and with the characteristic gullies known as calanchi. Today, the scene is dominated by ancient houses perched on the rock, positioned around the Norman tower that stands on the hill.
3. Canale Monterano
If you look for some unconventional spots near Rome, Canale Monterano is definitely a great option. Just 50 km away from Rome, the village is still permeated with history, art and the mystery of centuries of abandonment. The inhabitants left the village at the end of 1700 after a malaria epidemic and the invasion by the French army. Canale Monterano is different from any other ghost towns since it boasts some authentic masterpieces such as the octagonal Fountain of the Lion in the middle of the square, which was created by the famous sculpture Gianlorenzo Bernini who also worked on the construction of the impressive Ducal Palace.
Canale Monterano is so fascinating that more than 100 movies where set here! (Ben Hur, Ladyhawke and many more)
Let's go to Sicily now, with one of the most captivating ghost towns of the region: Poggioreale, which was hit by a terrible earthquake in 1968 and completely abandoned after that. However, the remains of the villages still stand there, telling stories of ancient life surrounded by total silence. Walking in the streets of Poggioreale might also be a little bit sad, since no part of the village have been restored after the earthquake, so destruction is clearly in every corner.It's a place that's sure to delight those who love spooky environments!
Celleno is a very evocative ghost village located in the green area of Tuscia, not far from Rome. It is perched on a rocky spur overlooking a deep valley surrounded by calanchi. It is accessible only on foot from a unique gate of the Orsini Castle. The village was gradually abandoned after earthquakes and landslides, even if some of the inhabitants kept living there until they were forced to leave by a Presidential decree. Some buildings have been restored and are now have been turned into the Museo della Civilità contadina and the peculiar museum of Talking Machines!
6. Apice Vecchia
In Campania region, near the city of Benevento, the town of Apice vecchia stands on a hill after being abandoned since 1962, even though some residents refused to leave the town but were then forced after a second terrible earthquake in 1980. It is a window in the past: in some houses you can still see the old kitchens, furniture and people's belongings. There are even some vintage broken cars into some garages, filled with grass and wild plants. A trip through time!
Consonno, located in Brianza area, not far from Milan, is not really a ghost city but more than a "half-finished city". Its history is very peculiar, since it was a quiet tiny rural town utlil 1962, when an Italian entrepreneur, Mario Bagno bought the entire area forcing the residents to relocate, to put in place its big project: the "City of Toys", which was supposed to be an attraction full of shopping malls, restaurants, zoo, casino, built among fake medieval castles and a muslim minaret. A sort of Italian Las Vegas. Unfortunately, when most of the buildings where finished, a landslide hit the village in 1976, isolating the area, so the project was killed, turning Consonno in a fascinating and a bit kitschy ghost town.
When it comes to Poveglia, you should be ready to hear some creepy stories! It is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon and it is supposed to be haunted! Fore centuries Poveglia used to be refuge for any kind of exiles, including victims of the plague, deceased or still alive, who were burned on giant pyres on the island's center. At the beginning of 1900 the island was transformed into an asylum, where probably strange experiments were conducted on the patients. After the asylum closure, the island was abandoned and now the access is forbidden due to security issues, but you can still navigate around the island, if you're not too scared of hearing some voices from the past! No surprise that we included Poveglia into the list of the mot scariest places in Italy!
The ancient town of Gessopalena is located in Central Italy, Abruzzo region, placed on a ridge of a rock. The town was the scene of one of the most terrible nazi massacres in 1944, during the Second World War, when women, children and elderly were burnt alive in the central square. After this tragic event, the town became the heart of partisan resistance in the area, but many people left the town which was gradually abandoned. Today, in the ghost town, time has stopped among ancient ruins of houses, churches and stands the Monument to the Resistance, dedicated to the men and women who, during the Second World War, acted to free their land from the Nazi-Fascist enemy.
10. Bussana Vecchia
The story of Bussana Vecchia, not far from Sanremo in Liguria region, is very peculiar, as it is actually a former ghost town! In fact, it was abandoned after an earthquake in 1887 which destroyed almost the whole town, but several years later, in 1950 it was discovered by a group of artists who decided to settle down there, rebuilding many of the damaged houses! Currently, Bussana Vecchia is still populated by artisans, painters, sculptors who made the village live again by creating art galleries, art shops and performing concerts and shows in the streets!