Craco, an ancient village in Basilicata, abandoned after a landslide in the 1960s, now comes back to life with tourism.
Craco, "the ghost town", jewel of Basilicata
A ghost town more alive than ever. Here is Craco, a small village in the province of Matera, in Basilicata, perched on a hill and surrounded by vast fields of wheat and the characteristic “calanchi”, deep furrows in the ground along the side of a mountain or a hill. The particular morphology of the landscape caused the abandonment of the village by its inhabitants, in the 1960s, after a terrible landslide that brought down the clay subsoil.
Life went on with the displacement of the inhabitants in the nearest village, Peschiera, leaving in fact Craco at the mercy of nature. Since 2009, the country has been reclaimed to boost its tourism and culture. In fact, it is possible to visit Craco and its ruins through guided tours, equipped with a protective helmet and a special pass issued by the municipal administration. The route, about an hour and a half, allows visitors to immerse themselves in a place where time has stopped, really.
What to see in Craco: history and monuments
The terrible landslide of Craco in 1963 was partly due to the geology of the territory, consisting of a clay soil mined by the waters below, partly to the human settlement, with numerous excavations of wells and cisterns that have further caused the flow of water. Before the landslide Craco was called “city of wheat”, thanks to the presence of many wheat fields here cultivated; its origin is however very ancient, probably was already inhabited by the VIII sec. b. C. In the Middle Ages is spoken of Cracum, a manor dating back to 1164, as evidenced by the quadrangular tower still present today. In the course of the Craco centuries passed from one feudal to the other, and this explains the presence of numerous noble palaces, such as the Maronna Palace, Grossi Palace, Carbone Palace, Simonetti Palace, Cammarota Rigirone Palace. Among the sacred monuments we remember Saint Nicholas Bishop’s Mother Church and the convent of San Pietro. Today some of the buildings have been renovated and converted to cultural containers; Craco has also been film set of important films such as "The Passion” by Mel Gibson and “Quantum of Solace” of 007 saga.
How to reach Craco
Craco is easily reachable from the main cities by car; it is also a very liked destination from bikers. We indicate two routes. From Salerno Reggio Calabria highway, take the Sicignano exit (PZ) and then the direction Potenza, then take the S.S. 407 Basentana direction Metaponto, exit at the junction of Pisticci, and follow the signs to Craco. From S.S. 106 Jonica (Taranto-Reggio Calabria) exit Metaponto (MT) and take the S.S. 407 Basentana direction Potenza, then exit at the junction of Pisticci, and follow the signs to Craco.