Roscigno Vecchia – an Italian ghost town

Roscigno is in the heart of the Monti Alburni in Cilento, a Mountain Range in Campania, that’s often referred to as the “Dolomites of the South” because of their ragged beauty and their impressive cliffs, that loom above the fertile plains. Originally founded sometime in 11th century, landslides were threatening to destroy the village on the turn of the 20th. So after a 1.000 years the whole community just relocated uphill.

Mountains near Roscigno, the Monti Alburni are sometimes referred to as the "Dolomites of the South"

Mountains near Roscigno, the Monti Alburni are sometimes referred to as the “Dolomites of the South”

We park our car in Roscigno Nuova and walk about 1500m down the road. Most houses we see in Roscigno Vecchia need to be supported by steel girders or tree trunks, but it’s all there. The church, dozens of private residences, a small community centre that still sees some some from time to time – and then there is Guiseppe.

Guiseppe - the guardian of Roscigno

Guiseppe Spagnolo is the only permanent resident in the Italian ghost-town of Roscigno.

Guiseppe Spagnolo the only permanent resident in Roscigno, a quick smile half-hidden in his luxurious beard he sits in the entrance of the small museum, looking much like a part of the exhibition himself. His pipe althoug cold most of the time only leaves his mouth to point something out and it doesn’t take much convincing for him to show us one of “his” houses. It is filled to the brim with photos of him and postcards people sent him from all over the world. In the anteroom there is a lot 19th century agrar-tech, dried herbs and a stool in which he starts to pose right away. It’s clear that he enjoys the attention immensely and that this tableux was put there for exactly this purpose. He is well aware of his photogenic granddad-looks and I happily oblige and start shooting.

Village green with the decrepit church in the ghost-town of Roscigno Vecchia

Village green with the decrepit church in the ghost-town of Roscigno Vecchia

After we take our leave we stroll through the rest of the village. It’s strange; everything is quiet and orderly, when usually Italian towns are the definition and embodiment of a loud and careless lust for life. Whenever there are people in Italy someone is crying, arguing, shouting for the kids, you got Vespas and Apes tuk-tuking day and night.  Here not even a dog barks, only insects buzz lazily about in the golden afternoon sun.

One of many half-ruined houses in Roscigno Vecchia, an Italian ghost-town

One of many half-ruined houses in Roscigno Vecchia, an Italian ghost-town

Some houses look like they have just been deserted and I think “you could just fix them up and move in next week”. The streets and alleyways are kept clean of overgrowth by local shepherds and their flocks. A movie-set comes to mind, and Guiseppe tells us of a couple of historical TV-Movies that were shot on site.

Surroundings:  Roscigno is about a good hours drive from Paestum, even though it looks closer. Close by is the town of Castelcivita with its grottoe and Sant’Angelo a Fasanella with a beautiful roman bridge at the sources of a small river. On the coast, you might want to check out Santa Maria die Castelabate or Marina die Camerota – both are home to one of my favorite restaurants – ever!

We visited the ghost town of Roscigno on a two-week-trip through Campania, see an overview here

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