Italy– Ghost Towns
There are up to twenty thousand ghost towns all over Italy, yes, it's an incredible number. It is due to frequent earthquakes and landslides, and thus unsatisfactory conditions for agriculture and life. Today we will visit the most famous depopulated cities and learn about their past and present.
We will be the first to visit Craco in the southern Italian Basilicata, it was abandoned precisely because of the frequent earthquakes. The first mention of Craca was already in 1060, when the city belonged to Archbishop Arnaldo. It was built on a rocky hill with lots of houses around, like many other Italian medieval towns. At the end of the 19th century, it had more than 2,000 inhabitants, but then came the problems. Before the First World War, more than half of the population left the city. However, the inhabitants left it in 1963, some emigrated to the USA and others founded a new city nearby. Today, cultural events take place here and the scenery of the city is used mainly by film production.
Another mysterious ghost town where time stood still is in northern Italian Liguria and is called Bussana Vecchia. This time, however, it is an example of a story with a relatively happy ending. The earthquakes destroyed the buildings in 1887 and the earthquake was supposed to be one of the first to be recorded by a seismograph. In the early 1960s, a group of artists moved into the damaged buildings. They gradually built art workshops that serve as attractions for tourists.
The Sicilian town of Poggioreale has a similar fate as Craco. After a strong earthquake, it is abandoned and families whose ancestors have lived in the city for generations have been forced to find a new home. Some moved to the new Poggioreale just a few kilometers away and others went straight overseas. The city is nicknamed "Modern Pompeii" by the locals. Despite the devastating earthquake, most of the houses remained well preserved. Girolamo Cangelosi, the mayor of the new Poggioreale, which was built down in the valley after the earthquake, has a plan to restore the city to its former splendor. He doesn't just let dreams drift. He has already started preparing concrete plans and has also addressed architects. The only thing missing so far is funding. He also seeks help from the natives and their families. Cangelosi's goal is to make Poggioreale a holiday destination with craft shops, restaurants, bars and guesthouses. According to him, the surrounding landscape has not lost any of its charm, it is still full of olive groves and meadows on which sheep graze. According to him, the nearby hills are great for hiking or cycling.
Every deserted place touches you somehow, because at every step you see the remains of specific people with their specific lives. So when you are Italy and near it, just make a stop.
GPS: Craco 40°22'41.8"N 16°26'25.3"E
Text: Veronika Kocmanová
Photos: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons: Samuele, Michael Schmalenstroer, Michael Schmalenstroer (2), Davide Mauro
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