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Italian Villages to visit - Craco
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5 Abandoned Italian Villages to Visit

I thought Italy was only what was advertised and most renowned, which is extremely limiting and, above all, a shame for visitors who often get carried away by current trends. Italy has so much more to offer; there are hidden treasures that undoubtedly make up a significant part of your trip to Italy. I have gathered some forgotten and ghostly villages along the entire boat that, in my opinion, as an Italian, you should not miss. These are mostly abandoned villages that tell centuries-old stories; some guard ancient and fascinating treasures, while others carry bizarre events.

Consonno (Lombardy)

If I were to describe this village in a few words, I would say that Consonno is a twist of fate. The small hamlet in the Lombard hinterland had the opportunity to become the Italian Las Vegas of its time, a symbol of extravagance and unrestrained luxury, but apparently, it was not meant to be.

Consonno - Italian Villages to visit
Consonno is the abandoned land of toys – Italian villages to visit | Credit

The project of Count Mario Bagno never truly came to fruition and completely fell apart when a landslide destroyed the main connecting road, sealing its grim and relentless fate. On that sad day in 1976, Consonno was completely isolated and unreachable. It underwent a deterioration that continues to this day, becoming effectively a ghost town with a fascinating story to tell.

In 1962, the count purchased the village, and its approximately 300 residents were evicted as the works began. The count was an extremely volcanic mind, but his project was full of holes and quite unachievable. The Italian Las Vegas was supposed to host a medieval castle, a dance hall, luxury hotels, and even a Chinese pagoda!

None of this was ever realized. Today, however, what remains are the cemetery, a small church, and the chaplain’s house!

Craco (Basilicata)

Just 50 km from the fascinating Sassi of Matera, a small village rises on whitish rock. It looks like a typical scene from an apocalyptic movie. Surrounded by total desolation, you can appreciate striking whitish rocks and buildings now abandoned due to old ground collapses.

Italian villages to visit - Craco
Craco and its breathtaking beauty – Italian villages to visit | Credit

Due to the dangerous terrain, which has become increasingly desolate, tourists must be accompanied by a tour guide and wear a protective helmet. Without a guide, you can still admire the beauty of the ghost town, but only from outside the safety fence! My advice is to venture inside the village and observe the city walls, the famous arches of the former historic center, and the main church. If you’ve come this far, why not go the extra mile? It could be an interesting and unconventional idea if you’re a lover of archaeological sites or a history buff. A winning combination might be visiting Matera and Craco on the same day.

San Severino di Centola (Campania)

The story behind the abandonment of its inhabitants is certainly not the happiest or most amusing. When the plague epidemic hit Italy in the 17th century, the population of San Severino di Centola was decimated, further burdening the country’s economy. The village is immersed in the Cilento National Park, far from the luxuries of high society.

San Severino di Centola stands timidly above a very dangerous rocky terrain | Credit

Nevertheless, it remains an enchanted place, with ancient houses dating back to the 10th century perched on rocks and boulders. The remaining inhabitants, even after the epidemic, began to move away around the 1970s, so much so that in 1977, the ancient church ceased to provide services to the faithful. To commemorate the complex and desolate lives of the village’s farmers, the Museum of the Cilentan Emigrant is open, a grand tribute to the local inhabitants.

Bussana Vecchia (Liguria)

Just 7 km from Sanremo, the Ligurian city known for its renowned and eponymous festival, lies a ghostly village of rare charm. Abandoned mostly after the earthquake of 1887, survivors lived in makeshift and dilapidated houses for about 7 years.

Italian villages to visit - Bussana Vecchia
The maniacal care of Bussana Vecchia, an abandoned village set up by a handful of artists | Credit

Today, it is known as a hippie village or artists’ village, following the birth of a real international artistic community that has given new life to the ancient village. Amidst ruins, abandoned buildings, and some degradation due to a lack of structural restoration, painted windows and high-quality artisan objects emerge. The village is home to no more than 30 inhabitants, mainly artists, who all know each other and are united by a beautiful common goal: to give an identity back to a destroyed village.

Walking through the hamlet , you can find all types of artists: those who take care of the gardens, those who welcome you, those who are grumpy with tourists and just want some peace, but they are all united by mutual assistance.

Pentedattilo (Calabria)

Behind this village stands an imposing rocky wall with 5 large spires. One of these spires gives the halmet its name: Pentedattilo. Due to the danger of the rocky wall, the depopulation of the village began, which is now somewhat easing through local festivals and the opening of various artisan shops. Additionally, there is a new restaurant and a cleanup of the environment through the renovation of the main street and some buildings, aiming to start a hypothetical repopulation.

Pentedattilo and its characteristic rock wall – Italian villages to visit | Credit

Exploring these abandoned Italian villages is like stepping into a time capsule, each with its own unique story and charm. From the failed dreams of Consonno to the eerie beauty of Craco, these villages offer a glimpse into Italy’s rich history and the resilience of its people. Whether you’re drawn to the artistic revival of Bussana Vecchia or the haunting remnants of San Severino di Centola, each hamlet promises an unforgettable experience for those willing to venture off the beaten path in Italy!

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