Are you a lover of mystery, ancient villages and hiking? Then don't miss Italy's most beautiful ghost towns!
Every region of Italy offers stories of villages that were once inhabited but then, for various reasons, abandoned. Places with traces of the Italian culture to be appreciated and rediscovered, where time seems to have stopped. The ghost towns are immersed in fairy tale-like scenarios with an enchanted and mysterious atmosphere. They will give you a unique experience. It would be a shame not to stop and visit them!
Let's discover together the 15 most beautiful ghost towns in Italy, from north to south, with stories, anecdotes and curiosities.
15. Trentino Alto-Agide: Ischiazza
Ischiazza was destroyed by a flood in 1966. the mountain village is located in the spectacular region of Trentino-Alto Adige, and not much it's left. Few buildings are covered in vegetation, and a small church with some decorations are still visible. Still, you will feel as if you are in a fairy-tale landscape, surrounded by the lush vegetation of the Trentino forests with its streams, rivers and magnificent paths.
14. Friuli Venezia Giulia: Moggessa di qua e là
The two ghost towns of Moggessa di qua and là in Friuli Venezia Giulia are separated by a stream and can only be reached on foot. The hike from Moggio Udinese to the villages is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary experiences that the region of Trieste and Palmanova can offer you. An unforgettable route through the uncontaminated nature of the Dolomites will take you to the crumbling hamlets. There you will find multi-storey stone houses all clustered together, many in ruins, some renovated for the holidays. will find multi-storey stone houses all clustered together, many in ruins, some renovated for the holidays.
13. Lombardy: Savogno
Suppose you're wandering around Lombardy looking for lost and abandoned places. In that case, you can't miss the enigmatic and surreal Consonno, just a few minutes from Lake Como. A bit further north is the mountain village of Savogno, a magical place that will enchant you despite its 3,000 steps to climb! The unspoilt nature of the Aquafraggia waterfalls frames the typical medieval village with stone walls, multi-storey wooden houses and a church with frescoes. Savogno was abandoned in 1968 because of its location. Still, it is partially repopulated in summer and has become a must-see for all tourists.
12. Piedmont: Erbareti
Piedmont's ghost towns are located near the beautiful city of Alessandria, while 2 hours from Turin, in the province of Vercelli, you can admire the pretty village of Erbareti. It's situated almost 1000 m above sea level; the town was founded around 1600 and was supposedly used by convicts. You can immerse yourself in its history, linked to the Sasso del Diavolo's legend (Devil's Rock), whose protagonist is the only inhabitant of the village, a woman. The woman, looking for someone to work with her, met the devil disguised as a man who offered his help. In the end, he was deceived. As a sign of his anger, he left a hoofprint on a rock near the village stream, which can still be seen today.
"The eye that looks at these ruined and abandoned places imagines their past, feels through time-worn skin the soul that envelops them."
11. Sardinia: Gairo Vecchia
If you like alternative routes to postcard routes, then the forgotten village of Gairo Vecchia is for you! In the province of Nuoro, in the hinterland of the beautiful Sardinia, you will find the skeleton of a village with a tormented destiny. Its name comes from ga e roa, the land that flows. Landslides, earthquakes and mudslides have marked its history since the nineteenth century until 1951, the year of the terrible landslide that saw the complete abandonment of the village. A fascinating macabre atmosphere will accompany you among dismantled buildings, balancing stairways, crumbling walls and hidden ghosts.
10. Emilia Romagna: Chiapporato
Suppose you love wild nature and hiking in the beautiful forests of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines in Emilia-Romagna. In that case, you cannot miss the forgotten village of Chiapporato. Situated halfway between Bologna and Florence on a rise of more than 800 metres, the town evokes a bygone era where human beings seem almost extinct. Its history is a lonely one: it was built in the 16th century and inhabited by woodcutters and shepherds, but gradually emptied out until there were only two inhabitants, a courageous mother and her daughter, who abandoned it only in 2016. In addition to various ruins such as a washhouse, post holes, and an oven, the village also has a church restored a few decades ago to revive Chiapporato.
9. Toscana: Pratovalle
Tuscany is home to an immense artistic and cultural heritage and the most significant number of ghost towns in the whole of Italy. It would be a mistake not to stop and visit any of them! In the vicinity of Pisa, you can make a stop in the charming Toiano. If you are heading towards Lucca, visit the village of Col di Favilla. Not far from Arezzo, you will find Pratovalle, an ancient town of 27 souls situated on a high hill at about 550 m above sea level. Its history was not the smoothest. It suffered from famine; the Nazis destroyed much of the town, killing many of its inhabitants to give refuge to partisans. Despite the misfortunes, a beautiful medieval archway marks the entrance to its interior of narrow streets, stone houses, a chapel and even a mill and washhouse. A unique atmosphere will take you back in time to the authenticity and simplicity of the past.
8. Umbria: Castelsantagelo sul Nera
If you are looking for ghost towns or almost uninhabited villages in Umbria, you will not be disappointed! Near Norcia, perched on the slopes of a hill near the river Nera, you will find the picturesque village of Castelsantagelo, which will enchant you with its rare beauty and wild nature. Of prehistoric origins, it reached its peak in the Middle Ages, of which it retains the style. Still, unfortunately, the 2016 earthquake almost completely destroyed it. Of interest are the four churches and a monastery.
7. Abruzzo: Gessopalena
In the beautiful region of Abruzzo, nature and history intertwine, giving you unique and memorable landscapes such as the village of Torre di Sperone or the small town carved into the chalk of Gessopalena. Not far from Chieti, in the Aventino valley, a magical atmosphere steeped in history will accompany you through the ancient village, with its buildings leaning against each other, parallel streets, the ruins of monasteries and churches and a fantastic view of the central Apennines. Gessopalena is remembered for its tragic history in 1944 when the Nazis plundered over 40 women and children alive and the strong spirit of resistance of its inhabitants who formed the first partisan groups in the area. It was finally abandoned at the end of the 1950s.
6. Lazio: Antuni
If you are out and about in Lazio, not far from Rome and Rieti, you must not miss the ghost town of Antuni, Italy's most fascinating one. You will be enchanted by its location on Lake Turano, overlooked by the beautiful hills of Rieti, and at the same time amazed by its tragic past. During the Second World War, a large part of the village was unexpectedly destroyed by a bomb dropped from a fighter plane by mistake, inevitably marking its decline. The town was partly restored in the 1990s and incorporated into one of Italy's most beautiful villages, Castel di Tora.
"The only real journey of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
5. Campania: Romagnano al monte
In addition to the beautiful cities of Naples and Salerno, Campania will also excite you with its characteristic ancient villages like Roscigno in Cilento. On the border with Basilicata, instead, you can find the ghost town of Romagnano al Monte, with its living soul and historical memory. It's located on a rocky peak about 650 m above sea level overlooking the Platano River. It has not had an easy life due to continuous famine and earthquakes, but its inhabitants have never given up. They rebuilt and repopulated it several times until 1980 when the terrible Irpinia earthquake seriously damaged Romagnano. When you wander through its narrow streets, its walls and partly still furnished houses, you will be able to feel its spirit and the strength of its inhabitants.
4. Basilicata: Campomaggiore Vecchio
Suppose you are out and about in Basilicata, in addition to the obligatory stops in Matera and Craco, we recommend you visit the unique and evocative ruins of Campomaggiore Vecchio, known as the city of utopia, in the province of Potenza. The first settlements date back to 1150, but only in the 18th century, a real town of avant-garde and innovation was born. The count assigned everyone who moved into the village a dwelling and a piece of land to cultivate to attract new inhabitants, aiming to create an ideal village without poor people. It was also one of the first towns in the 19th century with a railway station. Still, unfortunately, the town was destroyed by a landslide in 1885.
3. Puglia: Roca Nuova
Puglia is surrounded by sea and dreamy beaches. Still, it is also an ancient land with villages that have made history, such as Roca Nuova. 30 minutes south of Lecce, you can visit the medieval village, now renovated to host events. Following the continuous attacks by the Turks, the inhabitants of Roca Vecchia moved further inland. They founded a real town in 1480 with a church, a castle, several towers and houses. The village was abandoned due to many epidemics, including malaria, in 1834.
2. Calabria: Fantino
The region of Calabria is home to many ghost towns, including the famous and charming Pentidattelo in the south. Further north, halfway between Crotone and Cosenza, you will find the lovely abandoned village of Fantino. Situated on Mount Gimella, in an unfavourable position but with a mild climate all year round, the town developed from the bottom up around 1716, possibly by a shepherd. In the 1960s, it became very crowded. Still, it slowly began to depopulate, probably due to its location, becoming a fixed appointment for the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages. They gather every 10th September to celebrate the patron saint of San Giovanni Infante.
1. Sicily: Gioiosa Guardia
Frederick III of Aragon chose the summit of Mount Meliuso as a strategic location to found a village made up of towers and fortresses as a defence against pirate attacks. Situated 800 metres above sea level in the province of Messina, you can find the ghost town of Gioiosa Guardia and a spectacular view of the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily stretching as far as the Aeolian Islands. A village with a short and tragic life; in 1783, it was hit by a strong earthquake and the following year by a terrible famine. This prompted the inhabitants to settle along the coast and found the present Gioisa Marina.