Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Abandoned Italian Paradise

(Original Post Date Sept 4)

Before going ‘home’ for the holidays in Norway, the Viking and I spent over a month in a picturesque Italian town nestled in the alps. Population: 150 (official count is 750, but I wonder if it includes the houses below). Language: Venetian Dialect. Streets: only one street rich in history and tradition.

I arrived in Italy a week before he did and boy was I in for a surprise! In that little town I learned the meaning of "friendship, family, fresh food, and small town charm!".

It took me a full day of travel to finally reach the small secluded Italian town from California. When I finally arrived to the train station on the valley below, I hadn’t been able to sleep in over 30 hours and I was exhausted! but had to wait in the crisp December breeze for the landlady, since she insisted on picking me up from the train station.

"Leave the luggage in the car, lets go shopping!". The "quick drive home" twisted and turned through a dangerously narrow alpine road with breath taking views, and the minutes turned into hours of shopping and meeting her friends. She treated me like a guest, and I felt at home!

Ah, but afterwards she refused to take me home since "it's dark, no one is there, and the grocery store is closed", so she insisted I joining her for a meal with her husband, two very well behaved courteous young boys, and many of the town residents.

After full day of schmoozing Italian style, I finally opened the door to my cozy apartment and went straight to the bedroom and opened the window taking in the crisp winter air, and fell in bed admiring the massive view of the alps with a smile. My first day back in Italy had been very heart warming!

When the Viking finally arrived from Norway to join me, he had it coming since by then the entire town of 150 knew about us and wanted to know all about these two foreigners in this very history rich small corner of Italy!

Two days before Christmas, we left to Venice in order to finish our Christmas shopping and we rushed "home" to Bergen, Norway to spend Christmas with his family… but this small Italian town stayed in my heart!

Today I came across pictures of another small town gifted with similar breathtaking views, but something else happened and it's hard to explain! All the citizens left!

They abandoned their roots, local traditions, and homes! I'm sure this town also had so much to offer! What causes citizens to abandon en masse their beloved traditions and home?

No one lives here!!!
Abandoned Italian Town
(Click on the images to see the entire picture collection from the source)

Ironically! the top picture on the right says "I'll be right back!"
but no one came back! This entire village in Norther Italy, west of Genoa is empty!

There are many flowering small towns in Italy, still true to their roots and Italian charm! I know, I've seen them! I've visited them, and I've lived in them!
How could a full group of people, young and old, together decide to abandon their paradise roots?


irenita_glaukopis said...

Unfortunately there is a lot of beautiful-small towns here in Italy where nobody living in...it's really a shame...

There is one called "Bussana Vecchia" near to San Remo (Liguria), it use to be one of this abbandoned small towns but since the 60's it became a BEAUTIFUL artist's village, the most of this artists are foreigners and they lived in the amazing stone-houses of the town...you have to see it!

What's the name of the town that you've posted?

le foto sono bellissime


irenita_glaukopis said...

oops, it was "abandoned"...sorry :D

Tina said...

Hey, you could live there without all the bureaucracy... surely their questura is also abandoned? ;-)

That really is interesting.

Astrid said...

How strange! I'd love to know why they left their town, no work, only old people left... ?

What's name of the tiny town in the alps, close to venice? And have you been to Norway many times?

Anonymous said...

l am so curious to know when and why they left the town? The photo's are lovely. It's all so mysterious.

sognatrice said...

Looks a lot like the hilltop village I currently live in--I'd guesstimate that between 70 and 80% of our houses are abandoned. Where there was once about 8000 people living here in the 1950s, there are now about 300, mostly elderly. I love it--but unfortunately we still have a comune with rules ;)

Here they left for lack of work, basically, and many went to Germany and Switzerland; also, a lot of families (especially younger members) moved down to the village on the (Ionian) sea (5 km down the road) which was built after the war when it became clear that businesses would flourish better down there (and that living near the sea was no longer dangerous--attacks and malaria used to be the big concerns). The railroad and highway system running through didn't hurt either--up until the 50s, there wasn't even a paved road from my village down to the sea. My OH's mom remembers walking down there.

Now there are about 3000 people in the marina village, but we're all under the same comune, mayor, etc. This is actually a pretty common set-up down here in the south, especially--you'll see one town be called "Superiore" up on the hill and the one down either "Marina" or "Lido."

I should write a post about this, eh (I think I just did! Sorry!) ;)

Angie Sandino said...

gracias por tus palabras en mi blog... un gusto conocerte y que hermosas fotos las que tienes en tu blog...

nos leemos!

Marcus said...

Thanks for that great story. I don't know any whole villages around here in SW France that have been abandoned - too many expats waiting to snap them up - but there are quite a few hamlets/farm complexes where the owner refuses to sell, that are falling to rack and ruin.

I think it's hard for us to appreciate just how tough life must have been (and still is for some) in an isolated mountain village.

Mélanie said...

I can not believe that this breathless village is empty . How can they leave this wonderful village .
Don't you think we can go there and leave peacefully in the small village ?

Mélanie said...

I can not believe that this breathless village is empty . How can they leave this wonderful village .
Don't you think we can go there and leave peacefully in the small village ?

Calabrisella said...

It is so sad!
but this is happening all over Italia...

daisies said...

how very sad ... it looks like it was so pretty ~ we have some ghost towns as we call them here in alberta and it always feels so sad to walk through them wondering about the people who once lived there ...

The Passionate Palate said...

Farfallina - this is my first, and certainly not my last visit to your blog.

This post is fascinating! I, too, want to know the name of the town you visited in the Alps. As far as the abandoned town - there are so many of us enchanted with it already, why don't we all take it over and move in? :-)

Italiana Americana said...

ciao! aha ke triste! That's so sad the town is abandoned! your relationship with the viking sounds interesting! why did you stay there for a month?

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Ciao Irenita :) So Bussana Vecchia had a similar story but foreigners took over? Wow, I'd like to see that! Though it's still sad to think that native's left!

This village is a in Northern Italy, if you click on any picture, it shows the town's map but no name!



Trust me, with all the bureaucratic hoops I have to jump, If they had internet I probably would! :)

Ciao Astrid!

The town we went to is called Foza, and it's very pretty. I just posted a few pictures I found of that town since he has our pictures, I really should ask him for copies! :)

I went to Norway once, but the days turned to weeks, turned to MONTHS!! :) I loved Bergen, and I'd like to return soon again :)


Ciao Cleo... That's my question too! Maybe if I can find the name, then I can find the story...


Ciao Sognatrice!

Your small town rests on a hilltop? that's beautiful! Well, I guess many Italian towns do... San Gimignano style!

Foza also had a lot of empty houses, though families return in the winter time... like a vacation home!

Hey, no Sorry! you have a blog so you know we prefer beautiful "posts" like yours! :)

La delirante said...

Wow!! Beautiful pictures! I want to go there!! :) I especially loved the picture of "Torno subito" :)

Have a lovely day!!

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

De nada Angie! Nos leemos :)


You're right Marcus, and that's what makes it so sad! trying to understand the circumstances that caused this.

Hmm...I wonder if France attracts more expats than Italy...


Hi Mélanie!

Definitely! We should go and live peacefully there :)


Hola Calabrisella!

Hey, your Spanish on the other blog always catches me by surprise! You dominate 3 languages very well :)


Hi Daisies...

There are ghost towns in Alberta too?

You actually stopped by to visit them? If I did that, it would take a lot of chocolate to get over how sad it was...


Hi Passionate!

Grazie! The little town I visited is Foza :)

Yes!! Several of us here are already planning on moving in! We could take it over eeeeeeasy! :)


Ciao Italiana :)

Well, having a long distance relationship is difficult, but both of us speak Italian, so we usually meet in Italy... since we used to live in Padova, Foza wasn't too far away, very pretty too...

Besides, it's always nice to enjoy a new place with someone you care about :)

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Hola Delirante!!

You snuck in on me there :) I oooooooowe you a tag! and I have a second one I'm sending back to you, hehe... it's a fun one! You'll like it :)

Enjoy Malta for me :)

Arch said...

Beautiful beautiful pictures...
Now I want to travel to Italy:-)
Thanks for sharing:-)

jafabrit said...

how fascinating to come across a whole village or town that is abandoned. I would be going mad exploring it. Very interesting blog and how wonderful to live your dreams :)

Tess said...

Hectic! I wouldn't mind living in a ghost town like that, nice and quiet compared to London ;) Beautiful pictures btw. Long distance relationship: how do you stay sane: I keep telling him my butterflies are at war because of distance... ;)

(perhaps next move will be to US then *hehe*)

Thanks for your visit! Had to leave comment too: I'm using Gravatars btw, left you a comment on my post with explanation...

qualcosa di bello said...

wow!! i would gladly live there!

thanks for adding to my travel "to do" list...

emeliehealy said...

ciao Farfallina!
great photos! i'm very familiar with these deserted italian towns as my BF has a home in one of them in abruzzo. it is sad, but it also creates this kind of dreamy, picturesque place and you know they may have a revival! the house prices are really cheap... if you can locate the owners to purchase one! this is the village i know and love so well... which is about 10% inhabited...

emeliehealy said...



Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Thanks Arch!! :)


Hi Jafabrit :)

Yes! Me too... at least I'd need a ton of chocolate and music to recover from that :)


Tess, I've read your blog but I hadn't realized that you're in a long distance relationship! I'm empathetic :( I still haven't changed the little alien, hehe..


Ciao Qualcosa di bello!

Sounds great! Let's make it a beautiful bloggers village!! What do you think :)


Ciao Emilie!!

Saw the pictures on your link and they're amazing!! So your bf bought one or it's part of his family? Seems interesting... I'd hope these towns have a revival!! If there was internet, it'd be easier since some of us work through it :) Ah, but here I am moving to HUGE Rome :)

Maddie said...

that is so strange and curious and
i wonder of course - where did they go?
did they stay together?
did they get separated?

are they happy?

ohhhh - lovely haunting photos...

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

I sure hope they are happy Maddie! :)

Though anyone who leaves home, sort of keeps their hometown in their heart... don't we? :)

Leanne said...

Ciao, I am a new visitor to the blog and I love the words and photos of the 'lost town.' Like any others have commented there are many towns similar to this in Italy...and perhaps all over the world.

My dad is from a small village in Calabria where pre WW2 there were over 900 people. Today there are about 150 (if that) and with the majority of them being old then I too wonder what will come of this (and other towns) one day.

After reading your blog however I want to add this deserted town on my list of other italian towns to see.

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

Ciao Leanne!!

Yey! a new blog on the Italy expat blogosphere!! :)

Thanks for the visit, and I loved your blog :) So your family is from Italy, but you lived your life in Australia and returned to Italy? How great is that! :) I look forward to reading more on your blog :)

Ci vediamo!

Expat Traveler said...

how very cool! I love the one with the goats crossing. Looks like a beautiful lost city.

Elizabeth Abbot said...

I spent New years day in Sermoneta, a small town south of Rome, at the beautiful home of an American/S. African couple (www.comm-inc.com). They live (and work) there and have discovered why so many young people move away -- very, very poor internet service! Only one side of the town is covered. He suggested to the mayor, that this might make a difference in getting people to move to /stay in the town. Her eyes glazed over.... Guess that won't be happening. In the meantime, they organize their day around the better and worse internet connection hours and accumulate work for trips to Rome.

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