Macabre as much as fascinated places. If you are thinking about where to spend your Halloween, here you are some phantasmagoric ghost towns in Italy.
There are many reasons why they became abandoned towns: it may be for human needs or natural causes. Today, the ghost towns in Italy tell stories to which few people can listen. Once they were home and refuge of someone, today a heap of stones full of suggestive and eternal charm.
And what better way to celebrate Halloween, the Day of the Dead than undertaking a tour through ghost towns in Italy?! You will rediscover the past, and the legends, and maybe see some ghosts too!
Once this place was humming/And the air was full of drumming/The sound of cymbals crashing/Glasses were all smashing/Trumpets were all screaming/Saxophones were blaring/Nobody was caring if it’s day or night/I’m a ghost/Living in a ghost town/I’m going nowhere/Shut up all alone
18. Ghost towns in italy: Umbriano (Terni, Umbria)
Umbriano is a castle currently abandoned in the municipality of Ferentillo (Terni). Built on the Northside of Monte Sant'Angelo in 890 after the Saracen invasions in Umbria. The fort was in a dominant location and hard to attack.
It was in an area without link routes with the Valnerina and economic attractions. During the second postwar, there was a progressive depopulation, and since 1950 it was utterly abandoned.
17. Ghost towns in italy: torre di Sperone (L’Aquila, Abruzzo)
Sperone is a castle hamlet and is today in the municipality of Gioia Dei Marsi. Centuries ago, an ancient Roman garrison used to raise who supervised Passo Sparnasio, not far from here.
The hamlet took the name from two castles that made it: Sparnasio and Asino, from this Speron D'Asino. It was at an altitude of about 1250 meters and faced the valley; indeed, it was actually for this location to make it a strategic place. The strategy lost value when the area depopulated and lost its sentinel role, relegating it simply to the position of Balcony on the Marsica, thanks to its landscapes.
16. Castiglione (Rome, Lazio)
Castiglione is in the area of Rome, on Monti Lucratini. Its name takes origin from its old castle, which seems to come from the earlier Roman settlement. Probably, a noble lived in the castle and decided to build his house on this hill.
Thanks to the building of this new castle and the transfer of ownership of this last one, Castiglione became a proper town. Unfortunately, the news about Castiglione stopped in the 15th century, when people probably abandoned it for reasons still unknown.
15. Stazzano Vecchio (Rome, Lazio)
Stazzano Vecchio is a hamlet close to Rome, of which we still don't know enough and of which seems that everyone forgets. It is into the Sabina Romana, the ghost town of Stazzano Vecchio is a small lonely gem.
During the centuries, the men made an inhabited nucleus perfectly integrated with surrounding nature which, in the years, took over. The few curious who decide to visit this village, one of the enchanting ghost towns in Italy, find a place of other times, surrounded by a suggestive and seductive scenario, which preserves all the past charm almost unknown yet.
14. Col di Favilla (Lucca, Tuscany)
Col di Favilla was a tiny village born as an alpine pasture of the town of Levigliani, which started to be a permanent settlement in 1880. The inhabitants used to devote themselves to sheep farming, agriculture, drilling of chestnut tannin, bottoming of the chairs and metalworking in the forges of the area.
The village had significant damage after the II World War. The people started to abandon it until it became a ghost town.
During the years, the descents of the ancient inhabitants provided to restore the church of the town and every year, the 26th of July, on the occasion of St. Anna's feast, to whom the church was dedicated, and revive the tiny hamlet.
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13. Scoppio (Terni, Umbria)
Scoppio di Acquasparta is a ghost town where currently live only ten people. The name comes from the Latin word Scopulus which identifies the dominant location where it is. Until 1750, in the town lived only 25 families. Around 1950, the people started to abandon it because of a series of earthquakes.
The tiny hamlet, isolated on a rocky spur, is a destination for many hikers who take the Monti Martani's paths. Among its fascinating monuments is the Romanic church of St. Angelo, built in the XV century. It is still possible to admire some parts of the 14th-century wall that survived the earthquakes.
Scoppio has currently had requalification that has back into the mainstream. For example, it was part of the movie set upon Pope Francis, directed by Wim Wenders, and some video clips of the U2 band.
12. Borzellino (Palermo, Sicily)
Borzellino is a ghost hamlet in Monreale, a city close to Palermo. It was a fascist hamlet, but differently from the other rural villages of this period, Borzellino was relatively close to a residential area, San Cipriello. Here, you can also find a ghost railway: Palermo - Camporeale.
It must be one of the villages for the project of requalification of South Italy through agriculture. But, unfortunately, they never completed it, so it became one of the many ghost towns in Italy.
The works started in the 40s, and they blocked them after the allied landings. Borzellino must be a classy hamlet with all the amenities and comforts because it was the baseline village of the area. The works finished in 1955, but the building of these villages was a little optimistic, considering the earlier bad results. Like the others, Borzellino was poorly projected and had imperfections that made it unlivable.
Today the hamlet is a paradox. During the day, thanks to the nearby motorway, it seems almost a lively town. During the night, you can feel the typical ghost town's atmosphere: squeaky doors and windows, hangers and gates that slap with the wind...It's scary!
You could add to your itinerary a stage in Palermo to contemplate its extraordinary masterpieces, rich in art and history, including the sumptuous Palazzo Asmundo, with the ticket offered by Visit Italy.
11. Toiano (Pisa, Tuscany)
Toiano is a village in the municipality of Palaia, in the area of Pisa. It took origin in the early Middle Ages. Its structure is that of a castle indeed. The access to the hamlet is through a bridge, which probably was a drawbridge in the past.
The town is sadly known for the murder of a 23-years-old girl, Elvira Orlandini, nicknamed the beautiful Elvira. They founded the girl slaughtered in the woods, and her killing was a media event in 1947.
After this horrible event, the people left the town because they believed that Elvira's ghost haunted and tormented the village.
10. Roscigno (Salerno, Campania)
Roscigno Vecchia is a hamlet in the heart of Cilento National Park. Because of the continuous rockslides and landslides, the inhabitants abandoned it. The unspoilt nature has started to take over its tiny houses and, here you are, it has become a ghost town.
The town is not entirely uninhabited. A man goes on to live here. He doesn't intend to give up his habits, and he is a perfect Cicero for the tourists.
Since 1997, the ghost town of Roscigno with Cilento National Park has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Take time off to participate in a magnificent nature hike in the lush park of the Alento River Oasis with the ticket proposed by Visit Italy.
9. Celleno (Viterbo, Lazio)
Celleno, in the area of Viterbo, is a rocky village on a tufa rock, where now there are only ruins. It had to face plague and landslides during the years, till the destruction in 1931 because of the earthquake. Today, it is full-fledged a ghost town.
The absence of manutention saved only the most architectural delicate part of the town, around the square Piazza del Comune. The FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano - Italian Environment Fund) has selected the village among its hamlets. During their open days, they organize guided tours.
Lastly, Cellano was the movie set for the Netflix TV series "Luna Nera - Black Moon", dedicated to the XVII-century witch haunting.
Heading to enchanting Viterbo, you could venture into the enigmatic underground labyrinth of ancient origins with the ticket offered by Visit Italy.
8. Osiglia (Savona, Liguria)
Osiglia is a very particular village. It is in the Savona hinterland of Alta Val Bormida, and more to be a ghost village is, first of all, a submerged town. Indeed, it is possible to see the city for only a few days every 10-15 years, when it flows out from the same name lake, drained for maintenance to the overrun and dam.
The old hamlet has medieval origins. Indeed, it develops around a castle. The inhabitants abandoned their houses in 1938, after the dam's building.
7. Bussana Vecchia (Sanremo, Liguria)
Bussana Vecchia is only 8 km from the beautiful Sanremo is a proper open-air museum. In 1887, a strong earthquake seriously affected and during which many inhabitants lost the life. The survivors lived in makeshift housing for the next seven years until they ultimately left the town.
After abandonment's years, at the end of the 50s, Italian and foreign artists have restarted living there because attracted by the town. From the ruins has raised labs and ateliers, exhibitions and vernissages: new ideas to rebirth arrived from the abandonment. That is why today, the hamlet has become the village of artists.
More and more people, fascinated by the town, decided to visit or even live in Bussana Vecchia!
6. Balestrino (Savona, Liguria)
Let's stay in Liguria, and this time we are going to talk about the ghost town of Balestrini, on a rocky outcrop a few kilometres from the sea near Loano, in the province of Savona.
Walking through its streets, one has the feeling of entering a post-apocalyptic scenario, where life has suddenly come to a halt. The clock signals this 'stop' in its church stopped at the time of the earthquake in 1950. After several landslides and landslips, the village was abandoned entirely in 1963 to give way to a new hamlet downstream.
As with other abandoned villages, Balestrino served as a film set for the Hollywood film "Inkheart", directed by Iain Softley, in which Balestrino represents Capricorn Village.
5. Calcata (Viterbo, Lazio)
Just one hour from Rome, in the province of Viterbo, lies the village of Calcata. Perched on a tufa mountain, Calcata was deemed uninhabitable in 1935, remaining deserted for about 30 years.
The village came back to life between the 60s and 70s when once again considered safe. A group of Roman hippies went to live there. They, tired and fleeing from the frenzy and capitalism of the capital, saw in the village a place to rebuild society. Artists from all over the world also came here and decided to open their workshops here. It is why Calcata is also known as the village of artists and hippies.
But Calcata is also known as the town of witches because a legend said that when the wind blows through the village's narrow streets, it is possible to hear the singing of witches. Moreover, its shape has always been the setting for numerous dreamlike and magical tales.
Today there are about 70 residents in the village. Still, most of the population has four legs: they are the cats of Calcata, many friendly furry friends who have been super-photographed!
4. Civita di Bagnoregio (Viterbo, Lazio)
Remaining in the area and not far from Calcata. We find the much better-known town of Civita di Bagnoregio, known as La Città che Muore (The Town that Dies), an appellation given to it by the writer Bonaventura Tecchi.
This small village stands on a spur of tufa rock. Subject to erosion processes that have undermined it over time, it looks like a mysterious fortress to explore.
You can only reach it on foot via a bridge about 1 km long that connects it to Bagnoregio. The bridge offers a breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
Once in the village, time seems to have become rarefied. Today there are only eight inhabitants. Because of its unique appearance inevitably hosted numerous film sets, including Sironi's 'Pinocchio'. Civita has recently received the nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Let yourself be captivated by its breathtaking landscape and picturesque architecture, and admire its natural and artistic treasures with the ticket by Visit Italy.
3. Apice Vecchia (Benevento, Campania)
Straddling the provinces of Benevento and Avellino is Apice Vecchia, a town that has 'tasted' the force of nature at its worst. On 21 August 1972, it was hit by an earthquake measuring six on the Richter scale, during which 17 people died.
Following this event, the municipality decided to evacuate the country, leaving it deserted forever permanently! A new earthquake followed in 1980, which dealt the final blow.
It is one of the most evocative abandoned villages. Its perfect condition leaves a sense of infinite standby so strong that it has earned the nickname of Pompeii of the 20th century.
However, someone in the village has never abandoned it: the barber Tommaso has always continued to work in the old town.
2. Craco (Matera, Basilicata)
Until the 1960s, the small town had the nickname of Land of Wheat. It produced so much that the 2,000 inhabitants were not enough to cultivate the land of wealthy families. Everything came to a halt in 1963 due to landslides that caused many buildings to collapse until it was utterly uninhabited between 1975 and 1980.
Since 2011, the municipality has organised guided tours along a secured route, attracting thousands of tourists every year. Then, because of its crucial architectural conformation, which has remained almost intact, the village has been the setting for dozens of international films: The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson, Christ Stopped at Eboli by Gian Maria Volontè, Basilicata Coast to Coast by Rocco Papaleo, 007 Quantum of Solace by Marc Forster.
Explore the majestic and picturesque Matera, a gem of rare beauty nestled in rock, with the ticket made available by Visit Italy.
1. Pentidattilo (Reggio Calabria, Calabria)
Pentidattilo, in the province of Reggio Calabria, takes its name from five rocky ridges that jut out from Mount Calvario, extending along with the town like five fingers. Set in the mountains of Aspromonte, in a Calabria far from the world. In the 19th century, the scene of a rapid depopulation due to the danger of the rock crumbling after several floods and earthquakes made staying in the village increasingly risky.
As early as the seventh century, there are records of a fortress and castle on Pentidattilo.
But Pentidattilo is also famous for another sad event. In 1686, the so-called Alberti massacre: a bloody war between families that gave rise to stories of tormented ghosts that still roam the village in search of peace.
Today the village has come back to life thanks to the opening of craft workshops and cultural events such as the Itinerant Paleariza Festival, the Pentidattilo Film Festival (dedicated to the screening of short films from all over the world) and the inauguration, in 2012, of Mutrap, a museum dedicated to the village's rural traditions.