In a land ravaged by earthquakes, floods and volcanoes from time to time, it’s no wonder that in Italy, one will occasionally discover one of the many Ghost Towns…
Perched high on a rocky outcrop, with buildings precariously built under overhanging cliffs, is the beautiful remains of Pentedattilo, a village in southern Calabria. (The look of this village–tucked under dolomite cliffs–reminds me of the twin villages ofPietrapertosa and Castellmezzano we visited in Basilicata.) The village is a 45 minute drive from Reggio-Calabria. It got its name from the Byzantine word Pentedáktilos, which means five fingers, a reference to the five deep valleys surrounding the mountainous village. First inhabited in “Magna Graecia” period and then the Romans, Pentedattilo offers a wonderful view of the sea.Being one of the oldest Ghost Towns of Italy, the town was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1783, which led to large parts of the population moving to the nearby seaside port town of Melito Porto Salvo. Today a modern-day with the same name of Pentedattilowas built on another hilltop a bit closer to the sea. The residents still attend Catholic services in the restored Chiesa dei Pietro e Paolo (Church of Saints Peter and Paul) standing proudly against the threat of Nature under the cliffs in the old town.
After some restoration in the 1980s, the old village today has a few new residents, although many ruins still sit without roofs, windows or doors just waiting for the Voyager with camera to capture its haunting beauty and solitude. Oddly enough, the village becomes the site of the International Pentedattilo Film Festival… with appropriate their motto, “Don’t be a Ghost”.
Only in Italy!
You can find more incredible stories by Jerry Finzi on his travel and culture blog, Grand Voyage Italy: http://grandvoyageitaly.weebly.com/