In Italy, they are known as “città fantasme” or ghost towns.
They are the places that once upon a time were full of life – children playing soccer in the street, clinking espresso cups in bars and the chitter chatter of the latest local gossip filling the streets.
But now they’ve been abandoned, their inhabitants forced to leave for one reason or another. The wear and tear of the elements can be seen on the washed-out shutters of broken windows and crumbling walls, plants and trees have overgrown and begun blanketing the towns.
However, there is a certain intrigue when it comes to these places. Tourists and locals from neighbouring cities continue to explore these now mysterious and eerie places– perhaps wanting to imagine what it was once like living there or to get a little spooked by the abandoned buildings and what lies within the boundaries of these once lively towns.
Let’s take a look at three of our favorite Calabrian ghost town:
PENTEDATTILO, REGGIO CALABRIA
Pentedattilo is perhaps one of the most famous ghost towns in Calabria. The town is situated on Monte Calvario, a mountain which once looked like a hand. In fact, the name of the town comes from the Greek words penta and daktylos, meaning “five fingers”.
The town, originally a Greek colony in 640 BC, was dominated by many civilizations. In 1783, an earthquake severely damaged the town and many migrated to Melito Porto Salvo and the town became completely uninhabited in the mid-1960s.
The intrigue of this town starts even before you enter the village. The Church of Candelora and its small square offer an impressive view of the hamlet. As you wander through the small alleys of this charming village, you feel almost frozen in time.
And what would a ghost town be without its own haunting tale. Outside the village are the ruins of an ancient castle that was home to the Alberti family. It was here on the night of April 16th in 1686 that nearly the entire Alberti family was massacred due to on-going disputes between the Alberti and Abenavoli families.
ROGHUDI VECCHIO, REGGIO CALABRIA
Roghudi, located in the province of Reggio Calabria, isn’t exactly a ghost town. It’s a small town with a population of just over 1000 people.
The town is actually divided into two parts: Roghudi Nuovo (located near Melito di Porto Salvo) and Roghudi Vecchio (located on the foothills of Aspromonte).
Roghudi Vecchio sits precariously on the rocky slopes of the mountain with the Amendolea River just below. As a matter of fact, it was the river that caused this town to be abandoned after flooding made it completely unsafe to live in.
Roghudi Vecchio has been completely vacated since 1973 but visitors still come through to admire this once ancient Greek colony that dates back to 1050.
It is said that in the area of Ghalipò, located just above Roghudi Vecchio, live the mythical creatures Anaràde. They are described as women with hoofs instead of feet. At night the creatures would attempt to lure the women of Roghudi to the river bank by mimicking the voices of loved ones. Why would they do that? Well, they wanted to draw the women away from the town to kill them and eliminate any competition as they tried to seduce the men of the village. In order to protect themselves, the women built three gates: one in “Plachi“, one in “Pizzipiruni” and one in “Agriddhea“.
CIRELLA VECCHIO, COSENZA
Cirella Vecchio sits on a hilltop overlooking the sea. It had a great vantage point with incredible views of the coast but this small hamlet just couldn’t catch a break. Throughout it’s history, it suffered from plaques and earthquakes that devastated the town. And, after Napoleon’s army destroyed the town in 1806, a newer settlement was built near the seaside.
All that is left are the ruins of the castle, the amphitheatre, churches and other ancient buildings that were once testament to the beauty of this small town. Many people still make their way to this abandoned ghost town to see the mysterious ruins and take in the incredible views. The Chiesa dell’Annunziata is particularly interesting with its collapsed roof and walls paralleled with a completely intact altar and statue.
And, just like the other ghost towns, it also has its own story (actually it has a couple) but this one is probably a little more gruesome and ickier. The story goes that the town was actually destroyed by giant red ants. It is said that the giant ants completely devoured nearly all the men, women and children of the town and only a small group managed to get away.
The interest to visit abandoned ghost towns seems to be growing and we’ve seen many tours and cultural events organized to include places like the ones we’ve mentioned. If abandoned places interest you, then you should definitely consider visiting one of these places. Just remember to stay safe!