Ghost towns are towns or villages that have been abandoned by their original inhabitants, either due to a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or landslide, or for economic, demographic, environmental or structural reasons. In Italy, a large concentration of these abandoned small villages can be found in the impoverished and seismically active portions of the Southern regions, but there are also ghost towns in Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio. Here are some of the most intriguing of the Ghost towns in Italy. Most of them can be visited.
Poor farming, added to earthquakes, landslides, and war, all contributed to a mass migration of Craco’s population to North America between 1892 and 1922. In 1963 a landslide caused the evacuation of the remaining 1,800 inhabitants to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera, while the original Craco remained in a state of crumbling decay. Craco has since remained untouched, offering the rare sight of a true ghost town, with its deserted streets and houses that were left exactly as they were inside, as if it was abandoned overnight.
Pentedattilo is a ghost town on the Monte Calvario, whose five strange pinnacles resemble that of five fingers, hence its name “five fingers” from the 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. After a renewed time of prosperity 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, who help rebuild the streets and restore the houses.
Romagnano al Monte (Campania)
The village of Romagnano al Monte in the province of Salerno was destroyed in the Irpinia earthquake of 1980 and rebuilt a few kilometers away. The ghost town became a tourist attraction in the early 2000s almost like the other one in the same province: Roscigno Vecchia.
The small town of Roscigno in the province of Salerno is divided into Roscigno Nuova and Roscigno Vecchia. The latter is 1,5 km away from the new town and completely abandoned since the early 20th century, when the population moved to Roscigno Nuovo due to a landslide. The ghost town became an eco-museum in the beginning of the 2000s.