Craco, Italy

Deep within the desolate badlands of the Basilicata region of Southern Italy, lies the derelict ghost town of Craco. Abandoned by its working class citizens in the mid 1980’s after a devastating landslide, Craco’s crumbling foundations stand as a reminder of the villages turbulent past. While the decaying remains of Craco still manage to grasp to its remarkable hilltop setting, the town is largely forgotten and bypassed by major tourist circuits.

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Craco

This might explain why we found it so hard to find any useful information about Craco on the world-wide-web. The only English language information we managed to find informed us there was a washed out bridge on the roadway to Craco and it would be difficult to secure admittance inside the towns barbed wire perimeters. So with our limited online information and a vague outline on how to get to Craco, we set off.

Just 30 minutes after leaving our campsite, we exited the freeway and began to follow our directions to Craco. After crossing a newly constructed single lane bridge, we continued along the road ascending all the way to the faded ghost town. To our surprise Craco was scattered with numerous signs that directed towards a tourist information centre where we were able to book a guided a tour for only 10 Euro per person. On arrival we were told that

The tour starts in 10 minutes at 1pm. Just drive up the hill, we will meet at the donkey”.

Such vague animal-related directions seemed rather humorous to us but who where we to question them. So we hopped in our campervan “Willy” and drove for several hundred metres up the hill until we saw an unguarded, untied donkey standing on a walkway. We immediately parked our vehicle beside the impeccably located ass and waited for our rendezvous with the tour guide.

Almost exactly on the hour our knowledgeable tour guide arrived and we began our tour along with six other eager Italians. At the donkey meeting place we were given sanitary hairnets that were thankfully covered by precautionary hard hats before we entered Craco’s most hazardous territories. As the only English speakers on the tour we were extremely surprised that our tour guide was able to sufficiently deliver an account of Craco’s history in both Italian and English.

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For the next hour we walked under the blistering midday sun through crumbling alleys and disintegrating interiors all the way to the tower that sits atop Craco. From this vantage point we were able to appreciate the emptiness of the surrounding landscape through a lone window that bared the graffiti inscription “FANTASTICO”: a suitable footnote to such a vista.

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