While most of the past lives on only through stories and records, some things are frozen in time and still stand as they did decades or centuries ago.

Discover some of Italy’s most stunning ghost towns which, once bustling and thriving, now exist in silence and solitude.

Poggioreale – Sicily

There are currently two Sicilian towns which go by the name Poggioreale.

One is home to a small farming community of around 1,600 people, and the other is a ghost town which was abandoned by its residents following a devastating earthquake in 1968.

Locals established a new town a few kilometres away, naming it after their former home.

A number of towns in the area were evacuated when the earthquake struck, but Poggioreale was one of the very few which were completely neglected. 

The town’s eerie yet beautiful ruins can still be visited today, and the local community seems committed to making sure that what remains of the old village does not disappear completely.

Leri Cavour – Piedmont 

The small northern village of Leri Cavour changed hands a number of times during its centuries-long existence, before being deserted in the late 1960s.

Home to an opulent mansion once inhabited by Marquis Michele Benso of Cavour, the town shows signs of a more promising past.

Despite a number of proposals as to what to do with the land on which a number of the former town’s buildings still stand, Leri Cavour remains abandoned today. 

Most of the structures have been looted and damaged including the formerly grand Cavour estate. 

The empty town feels eerie and the nearby nuclear cooling towers that now dominate the skyline in the area make it seem all the more apocalyptic. 

Monterano – Lazio 

Monterano is a deserted village perched atop a hill inside the natural park of Monterano, located in the centre of Italy not too far from Rome and Lake Bracciano.

Now a ghost town, it was once a hotspot due to the beauty of its natural surroundings and its proximity to the Eternal City and Cinecittà. 

The town was plagued with an outbreak of malaria in the 18th century and then sacked by the French army in 1799, prompting residents to abandon it entirely. 

Notable buildings, including the church of San Bonaventura, still stand proud today.

Craco - Basilicata

After surviving the black plague and bands of raiding thieves for more than 1,400 years, a landslide finally forced residents to leave the southern town of Craco in 1991. 

Founded in the 8th century, the abandoned village sits atop a 400-metre-high cliff overlooking the Cavone River valley. 

Boasting stunning panoramic views, the city could also easily be defended from invasions or attacks.

Despite its advantages, Craco is at a serious natural disadvantage. 

Exposed to the elements along with earthquakes and landslides, Craco finally caved in near the millennium.  

In wake of an earthquake in 1980, the ancient site of Craco was completely deserted.

The striking castle was built in 1300 and dominates the view on the cliff. 

Along with the castle, a church in Craco houses a statue of the Virgin Mary that was remarkably discovered in a nearby body of water.

Even though emigration has left Craco eerily uninhabited, life returns to the town during one of the many religious festivals held there paying homage to the Virgin Mary and the statue. 

Borgo Schirò – Sicily

Borgo Schirò is a derelict village located in Sicily, not far from Monreale. 

Named after a local hero, Schirò, the village lies on a small rise and overlooks the surrounding countryside.

Borgo Schirò was built under the reign of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and was part of the agricultural reforms instituted by his government to prevent mass emigration from Sicily. 

Though funds were heavily invested in Mussolini’s concept, Sicily suffered tremendous turmoil prior to and during World War II. 

Without the necessary subsidies to continue operation, the various amenities ceased functioning and the village was abandoned.

Today you can walk along Borgo Schirò’s silent streets and peer inside the various buildings that once housed a bustling population.