Exploring the Abandoned Places of Italy

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Italy, with its rich history and cultural heritage, is home to a fascinating array of abandoned places. These sites, ranging from ancient villages to 20th-century industrial sites, offer a unique glimpse into Italy’s past and the passage of time. Here’s an overview of some of the notable abandoned places in Italy:

Ancient Ghost Towns and Villages

Craco, Basilicata: Perhaps the most famous ghost town in Italy, Craco was abandoned due to landslides and natural disasters. Its medieval architecture perched atop a hill offers a hauntingly beautiful scene.

Bussana Vecchia, Liguria: Destroyed by an earthquake in the late 19th century, it was abandoned until the 1960s when artists began to occupy it. It’s now a thriving community of artists, though still retains an aura of abandonment.

Abbazia di San Galgano, Tuscany: A roofless Cistercian Abbey, famous for the legend of the sword in the stone, which is said to have inspired the Arthurian tales.

Abandoned Industrial Sites

Leri Cavour, Piedmont: This once-bustling agricultural village was dedicated to rice processing but was abandoned in the 20th century. Its industrial structures and residential buildings create a poignant reminder of its past.

Consonno, Lombardy: Known as the “City of Toys,” this area was transformed into an amusement park in the 1960s. However, environmental disasters led to its abandonment, leaving behind a surreal landscape.

Deserted Military and Institutional Structures

Poveglia Island, Venice: Infamous for its dark history as a quarantine station for the bubonic plague and later a mental hospital, Poveglia is often cited as one of the most haunted places in Italy.

Forte dei Marmi, Tuscany: These military fortifications and bunkers along the coast now stand empty, relics of the World Wars.

Romagnano al Monte a ghost town in the province of Salerno in Campania Italy

Romagnano al Monte, Italy

The abandoned mountain village of Romaganano al Monte has only lain dormant for a couple of decades; there are undoubtedly still those living nearby that remember the tragedy that struck the picturesque town, claiming 3,000 lives and leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces.

When an earthquake devastated the area in 1980, the survivors decided that rather than rebuild their beloved town, they would relocate. Another village was built a few kilometers away, and Romagnano al Monte was left eerily abandoned, a weirdly surreal mix of ancient ruin dotted with traces of the modern world.

Abandoned “Villa de Vecchi” (The Ghost Mansion)

The Villa De Vecchi is located off of Via Provinciale 2 (SP62) in the Cortenova Province of Lecco, Italy.  Felix De Vecchi was a Count and a solider for Italy and in the 1850’s decided to build his dream home for his family. With architect Alessandro Sidoli he made his dream reality and included many modern touches such as, heating pipes in the walls, a pressurized fountain in the yard, and even dumbwaiters.

Unfortunately the count killed himself in 1862, a year before the mansion was completed in 1863, at 46 years old. He came home to find his wife murdered, her face mutilated and his young daughter missing. He searched for his daughter in the surrounding wood but never found her.

Felix De Vecchi had a brother Biagio who received the mansion after his death. His family lived in the house until the 1940’s and then it was abandoned. To this day the mansion is still falling ever so into decay. A beautiful place with a haunting past.

The exterior of Villa de Vecchi is just as lovely as the interior. An exotic place that was once nestled alone near the mountains.

The Amazing Castello di Sammezzano, Reggello, Italy

Sammezzano castle was built in the early 17th Century in the Tuscan town of Reggello, 19 miles from Florence. Its remarkable Moorish architecture is a succession of domes and arches in an array of colours. In the 19th century, Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona renovated the interior galleries and added to their general eclecticism.

On former agricultural land around the buildings, he designed a vast park filled with exotic plants. The castle was auctioned in 1999 to be converted into a luxury hotel complex, but later abandoned and inevitably fell prey to passing looters.

Bell tower out of flooded village Graun - Curon in Tyrol

Abandoned and Submerged Church in Northern Italy

In South Tyrol, northern Italy, close to the Italian borders with Austria and Switzerland, there’s the artificial lake of Reschensee (Lago di Resia in Italian), which is known for a little more than the nature surrounding it: the steeple of a submerged 14th-century church which is visible all year round in the middle of the lake.

Together with the church, the whole town of Graun im Vinschgau (Curon Venosta) needed to be moved to a higher ground to make space for the lake. In total, 163 homes and 523 hectares (1,290 acres) of cultivated land were submerged in 1950.

Today the church bell, which can be visited on foot when the lake freezes in winter, can be seen on the coat of arm of the newer Curon Venosta town which know sits on the shores of Reschensee. A legend says that during winter one can still hear church bells ring even though in reality the bells were removed from the tower on July 18, 1950, a week before the demolition of the church nave and the creation of the lake.

The abandoned places of Italy are steeped in history, each telling a unique story of the country’s past. From medieval ghost towns to modern ruins, these sites offer a hauntingly beautiful perspective on the passage of time and the impermanence of human endeavors. However, it’s important to approach these explorations with respect for the site’s history, current condition, and the law.

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