Indelible Memory: Visiting the Ghost Village of Craco, Italy

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Peering through a glassless window into a kitchen, I spied cobweb-covered dishes in a dish drainer next to a stove and four rush-bottom chairs surrounding a table with a dusty red Formica top. This intimate tableau of family life made it seem as if the owners might still return one day. But then I noticed the year on a calendar pinned to the kitchen wall below a small wooden crucifix: 1980. This was the year that an earthquake doomed the ancient hilltop village of Craco, Italy.

The view of the countryside from Craco
The view of the countryside from Craco - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Founded in the eighth century B.C. by Greeks who prized its strategic location — on a clear day it is possible to glimpse the distant deep blue of the Ionian Sea — Craco thrived during the Middle Ages. But between 1890 and 1920, much of the town’s population emigrated to America. The village survived, barely, until a catastrophic landslide in 1963. The Italian government decided it should be evacuated, but many residents resisted until the earthquake of 1980. Today the ghost village, which is often used as a film set, is on a protected-monument watch list and can be visited on guided hard-hat tours only. Strikingly beautiful when seen from afar, it is a crumbling and poignant place up close.


Read more about our editor’s trip to Basilicata

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.
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