With a long and storied history, it is no surprise that Italy is home to thousand of some of the best preserved ancient abandoned villages and cities in the world. Today, Italy’s ghost towns have become a popular tourist destination as they allow visitors to take a step back in time to truly experience ancient life in typical Italian villages, many of which have their original buildings left in good conditions. From the north to the south of Italy, there are incredible villages to discover which have been abandoned for a variety of reasons throughout the ages, here are some to explore:
Located about 50 kilometers from Matera, and about 40 km inland from the Gulf of Taranto, Craco is built on a steep cliff overlooking the Cavone River valley, and stands out against the surrounding landscape of rolling, gentler hills.
The first traces of a human presence in the area of Craco date as far back as the 8th century when the area was inhabited by Greek settlers. The town’s decline began between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when more than 1,300 impoverished Craco residents moved to the United States. In 1963, Craco began to be evacuated following a landslide which had likely been caused by works of infrastructure meant to improve the sewer and water systems. In 1972, a flood worsened the situation even further, preventing a possible repopulation of the historic center. After an earthquake in 1980, the ancient site of Craco was completely abandoned.
More recently Craco has become a tourist destination thanks to it being used as a location in Hollywood films such as the Passion of the Christ and Quantum of Solace
Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio
Civita is a village in the municipality of Bagnoregio in the province of Viterbo, Lazio. It is famous to be a “borgo” inhabited only by a dozen people. Nicknamed “The Dying City”, it can be reached only on foot via a bridge. Behind the small village lies an area known as the “badlands”, which is a grouping of distinctive clay ridges that create an breathtaking and fascinating landscape. The village has been abandoned because of the numerous earthquakes, but today, thanks to its unique atmosphere and beauty, it is living a second life due to the many tourists which visit the village each year. Civita di Bagnoregio looks like a rocky island floating in the green terrain. The town is built following the Etruscan architecture style and also had late medieval elements.
Pentedattilo is a ghost town on Monte Calvario, the mountain has 5 tall peaks resembling five fingers, which is where the town gets its name from Greek. The town was founded as a colony of the Greek city of Chalcis, in 640 BC, but was sacked by the Saracens and successive invaders.
The town was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1783, which caused much of the population to migrate to the nearby Melito Porto Salvo. It remained totally uninhabited from the mid-1960 to the 1980s, when it was partially restored and repopulated thanks to volunteers coming from all over Europe to help rebuild the streets and restore the houses.