May 21, 2022 11:14 am

The tragic story of Craco, the Italian city that became a ghost town

located about 400 meters high on a mountain in the province of Matera, in the region of Basilicata, in Italy, the ruins of a town that went through innumerable tragedies until its final debacle remain. Its inhabitants were forced to flee due to the evils that occurred there and converted Craco in a ruin.

Although it is a tourist site, not many people have had the opportunity to visit it, since it is still in danger of collapsing and, to get there, many kilometers must be traveled by car through the mountains. But someone who was able to visit it was the Argentine engineer Pablo Colangelo. In 2019 he was selected along with four other people from around the world to be part of an Airbnb volunteer program, which gave them the opportunity to live in Italy for three months.

During his experience, he had the opportunity to visit Craco and, in dialogue with THE NATION, reported:In the town where I was those months, Several people told me about a Ghost Town. If they tell you that, it is obvious that you are curious. Then we took a car with a fellow volunteer who was from the Philippines and went to visit him”.

Craco was founded by a group of Greeks in 540 ADRoute 33

“These are very strange sensations. First of all, it’s high up in the mountains, and as you get closer, you can see the historic center above and in the distance. You see that and it’s already shocking”, commented Pablo and described: “It is an abandoned city, you can see some impressive ruins and you feel an apocalyptic world”. And that is precisely what the inhabitants of Craco experienced many years ago.

In its beginnings, the town knew how to enjoy good times for its citizens. Its creation is diffuse in the texts that relate its origin. According to the most cited historians, Craco was founded by a group of Greeks escaping from malaria in their country in 540 AD “People who arrived from Greece settled in the entire area of ​​Metaponto, a small town on the coast, and they founded various towns like Craco”, said Colangelo.

A) Yes, on the edge of a cliff, Craco became a Greek settlement and was the scene of several battles in which the Italians and French disputed the territory of Greece. Between the fights that happened in his first years, the Roman Empire took over the site. At that time, around the year 1060, it came under the supervision of an archbishop known as Arnaldo de Tricarico. The Basilian monks set out to give it a boost and build a beautiful city.

“I have been to many places, but Craco has something special", recognized Colangelo
“I’ve been to many places, but Craco has something special,” acknowledged ColangeloKindness: Pablo Gabriel Colangelo

Since then, the small population began to grow. The first villagers lived from agriculture and livestock, which were the main economic activities of Craco. Over the years, the number of residents increased, they forged the medieval buildings that distinguish it today and, between 1154 and 1168, there was a record of the first feudal lord of the place, called Erberto.

In those times Craco enjoyed good health, a great production for its population and came to house 2500 inhabitants. In its golden years, its main crops were vegetables, wines and oils, which generated work for all the inhabitants. During this feudal period, the historic center that survived to the present day.

“As you get closer along the path of routes that goes up through the mountains, You identify the buildings, the castle, the church, impressive structures that take you back in time. But everything is collapsedColangelo narrated.

Craco was the scene of dozens of battles in which the Italians and French disputed the territory of Greece
Craco was the scene of dozens of battles in which the Italians and French disputed the territory of Greecewww.tribuna-ram.com

As the years passed, Craco passed through various hands until in 1220, Federico II de Hohenstaufen took over as Roman emperor and turned it into a strategic military center during the sixth crusade, which was a new attempt to recapture Jerusalem.

Frederick II ruled the Empire until 1250 when Craco was at the mercy of its inhabitants. Like other regions of Basilicata, due to the lack of protection, the place was looted on many occasions by the phenomenon known as brigandage. Those bandits who work in gangs, harassed the citizens over and over again for years and thus began the gradual debacle of Craco.

Many years later, on July 18, 1807, the town received a strong attack in the midst of the Napoleonic occupation. The conquerors arrived at the site to steal the goods of the citizens and murdered all the lords accused of demonstrating against their ideals. This new blow caused part of its inhabitants to migrate to other cities more protected by the royal forces.

Pablo Colangelo visited Craco during his Airbnb volunteering in 2019
Pablo Colangelo visited Craco during his Airbnb volunteering in 2019

But his war tragedy would not end in that episode. 50 years later, after the unification of Italy that led to the alliance of the various States in which the peninsula was divided, Craco was invaded by Brigadier Carmine Crocco’s army. He worked under the orders of Francisco II, that He was King of the Two Sicilies from 1859 to 1861 and the last of the Bourbon kings of Naples. Since his uprising meant rebelling against the ideals of united Italy, then ruled by the first King Victor Emmanuel II, both were persecuted.

Finally, Crocco was accused of 62 murders, 13 assassination attempts, and fined £1,200,000 for war damage. For its part, Francis II had to retire to Rome and, over the years, lived in exile in Austria, France, and Bavaria.

Craco was situated on a mountain of sand and clay, which made it completely unstable to earth tremors.
Craco was situated on a mountain of sand and clay, which made it completely unstable to earth tremors.pxfuel

Despite the deaths and suffering suffered by the locals, war conflicts would not be the decline of Craco. Around 1892 the inhabitants began to suffer tremors. The city was situated on a hill in the Cavone valley of sand and clay, which made it completely unstable to the movements of the earth.

“Because of its location in those mountains, Any climatic phenomenon such as rain or wind can generate an earthquake. Therefore, one of the most interesting things is that you can see some intact houses next to others that are destroyed, because they were built right on rocks and not on clay. There are buildings that are half missing and the other part is almost intact. It is a very interesting geological experiencePaul explained.

These earthquakes occurred with increasing frequency and intensity. Many of the building constructions were destroyed by the geological fault. According to Italian historians, between 1892 and 1922, nearly 1,500 inhabitants undertook the exodus that would continue for a century.

Some of the population insisted on holding out for many years, due to the tradition their ancestors had forged in Craco. But earthquakes gave them no rest and more and more homes fell into ruin. To make a devastating scenario worse, the land never again produced the production of its golden years and the inhabitants suffered a severe famine forced to leave.

"The interesting thing is that you can see some intact houses next to others that are destroyed, because they were built right on rocks and not on clay", described
“The interesting thing is that you can see some intact houses next to others that are destroyed, because they were built right on rocks and not on clay,” he described.Kindness: Pablo Gabriel Colangelo

The Italians have very strong traditions and I imagine that at that time it must have been very difficult for them to leave their home. But the earthquakes were getting stronger, so there came a time when they had no other option”, acknowledged the engineer who visited Craco.

In 1963, a strong earthquake destroyed many of the houses that were still standing so the Italian government decided to migrate these villagers to a nearby town and, in 1975, the site was almost completely abandoned, decayed in a ghost town. Finally, in 1980, Italy suffered the earthquake known as Irpinia that affected the south of the country and was the final blow that ended Craco.

The movements of the earth turned the town into an eternal ruin.

“When you go through it, you have a view of what was left and of the retaining walls that were made, and now they are also collapsing. They say that sooner or later it will end up disappearing because even today it is in danger of collapsing. Therefore, when you make the visit, you must have all the necessary protection measures,” said Colangelo.

Like many other abandoned sites around the world, Craco became a popular tourist attraction in Italy for its history and for its beautiful views of the valleys of Basilicata. In 2010, it was listed by the World Monuments Fund to keep the remains of the town standing. It was even used repeatedly to film different films such as the hanging of Judas in Passion of Christ (2004), James Bond Quantum of Solace (2008) or various scenes the series Saving Grace (2007).

Next to the impressive castle, a church still survives that contains a statue of the Virgin Mary inside.
Next to the impressive castle, a church still survives that contains a statue of the Virgin Mary inside.Route 33

“A few years ago it was totally free and you could go through it as much as you wanted, imagine that the houses are all open because the town was looted many times. But because of all this, a foundation was created to conserve the historic center and that it does not continue to be destroyed, and it is even a World Heritage Site”, assured Colangelo.

With the passage of time, the historic city was marked by its outstanding medieval architecture and by the remains of the imposing castle built by feudal lords. by his side, a church still survives containing a statue of the Virgin Mary inside.

The tragic story of Craco, the Italian city that became a ghost town

“I have been to many places, but Craco has something special. It transports you to another era, there are things that were stopped in time. It is a visit to the past and leaves you thinking about all those people who had to leave their homes. It’s an amazing visit”, expressed Pablo Colangelo.

Despite his ghostly look already the catastrophe stories and wars suffered by its inhabitants, the tradition is still maintained to celebrate six religious festivals a year in Craco that, for a fleeting moment, they bring life back to the ruins.

Reference-www.lanacion.com.ar

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