When the original inhabitants of a town leave their home entirely behind, it becomes a ghost town. Natural disasters or environmental issues, such as landslides or earthquakes, can make towns structurally unsound for people to live in. However, nowadays and most of the time, people leave their homes behind for economic or demographic reasons. The livelihood, culture, and entertainment that could be found in the city centers of Italy could be another compelling reason. The youth’s search for a stable career and a more thrilling lifestyle also results in towns that are occupied only by the older generation. These are the contexts that gave birth to thousands of ghost towns in Italy. Some of them could also be found in the region of Umbria and other nearby areas. Tourists could still explore the houses, buildings, and different structures left behind by their inhabitants.
Civita di Bagnoregio
With the appearance of a floating town in the sky, the town of Civita di Bagnoregio seems imposing and indestructible. When in reality, the town is at risk of crumbling due to the delicate clay foundations where the city was built. Found between the borders of Lazio and Umbria, this dying town is now home to only ten people. The Etruscan architecture of the city is very distinctive and can still be perceived in its many abandoned buildings. The locals in the area are trying to petition the city for UNESCO to acquire more funds to protect and conserve its heritage. Tourists can stay in the nearby town of Orvieto as the majority of the structures in the Civita is unstable for its inhabitants.
Located in Umbria’s neighboring region of Lazio, Monterano is another Italian ghost town. It is situated near the Canale Monterano and the Lake Bracciano, which is about 50 km away from Rome. The town is now part of a nature reserve but still maintained its dream-like beauty and atmosphere. It even served as the setting for famous movies such as “Ben Hur.” The town was a victim of French assault and a plague caused by malaria in the late 18th century. This might be a top reason why many of its former inhabitants now reside in Canale Monterano and Montevirginio.
Giardino di Ninfa
Now transformed into an English-styled Botanical garden, the ghost town of Ninfa was formerly a thriving trade town founded by the Volscian people. The town was said to be prosperous in its location in the Appian Way from the 8th to the 14th century. It was first destroyed under the siege of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa after it became the refuge of Pope Alexander III. It was restored by Caetani family in the 13th century but was permanently abandoned in the 16th century due to an outbreak of malaria.
Sant’Anna di Stazzema
Unlike the other towns mentioned, the small town of Sant’Anna di Stazzema in Tuscany was abandoned because of a massacre resulting from the atrocities of World War II. After the dreadful events of 1944 and the end of the war, the village was restored partially but remained a ghost town. Sant’Anna became the location of the Italian National Park of Peace since 2000.