The ghost town of Craco, located in Southern Italy, for a long time was my dream. This summer I finally got a possibility to visit it. When the car started approaching the place and when I saw the first spooky silhouettes of that ghost town, my heart literally started beating way much faster. I do not remember when last time I was so emotional…
Why Craco? Because there is something that attracts me so much to such spooky and abandoned places, where there are so many hidden things, so many stories, and so many secrets. First time I heard of this place a few years ago, immediately fell in love with it and told to myself – “I will do it”. And, I did it.
Actually, Craco, settled down on one of the hilltops in Basilicata region, became a concrete ghost not so long time ago. Full desolation of the place, influenced by poor agricultural conditions, landslides and earthquakes, is being dated just around fifty years back. However, the spooky atmosphere there really exists. Unfortunately, we didn’t hear any scary sounds, coming from the ruined buildings, as well didn’t see any ghostly creatures…. But people speak that the ghosts are really living there!
To reach Craco without having a car is really challenging. But if one wants something very badly, he will always find a solution for getting it! And, it absolutely doesn’t matter if the others around him are assuring that “you won’t make it”. The same situation was for us, when we decided to visit this ghost city. Simple explanation – not perfectly matching interregional and local transport system (we needed to reach this town from Salerno, located in Campania region), and barely developed touristic infrastructure. But of course, real gems remain gems only if they are hidden and not easily accessible!
That time the universe helped us a lot. Craco was my dream for a long time, and if once in Basilicata – to visit it was my personal “must”.
Two buses taken, a few hundred kilometers crossed, one hour till the last bus, which could bring us to our next destination, and we – in the middle of nowhere, only with a road sign of “Craco – 7 km”, directing uphill. Time was extremely limited, so to make this road on foot was simply impossible. But, when you are burning with a desire – impossible is nothing! After a few moments of waiting on the remote silent road in between of wide fields, where no cars are going, in the horizon appeared a vehicle. We raised our hands and, luckily, it stopped. The solitary driver was heading towards absolutely another direction, but he agreed to change his way and bring us to the site. “I am working with marketing in the slaughterhouse. I do make deals with butcher’s shops”, he explained to us. My vegetarian soul was stirred up a bit, but this time I rejected all possible judgments – he really helped to make our dream come true.
Unfortunately, as our time in Craco was very limited, we could not take a walk inside of it. By the way, yes, it is possible. Just you need to find there guides, who can show you around. And, in this case, it is essential to use their services, because the whole Craco is in a really bad condition: you must know exactly, where to put your foot is safe, and where – the step could result in serious collapse of concrete. However, interesting fact is that nobody knows how things with these guides are really working. They seem like a part of Craco mystery too…
We didn’t make the guided tour, but the impression was not less strong. This is really a magical place. By the way, have you ever heard that exactly there were set some scenes of Mel Gibson’s “The passion of the Christ”? A perfect filming location for such plot, I should say!
In my opinion, for those, who want to know better Italy and visit something “off beaten path”, Craco would be a very interesting choice! And, it’s not only about its very particular charm, but as well about the existence of ghost town, being so far from fashion in Milano, renaissance in Florence and the pure smell of antiquity in Rome. So, if you’re in Italian South – definitely don’t miss Craco!
By the way, our hitchhiked driver not only brought us uphill, but as well accompanied to another town from where we needed to grab our next bus, and even bought some sparkling lemonade in the tiny local bar. There are good people in life! And, there are things, which will definitely happen if you really want them, whatever circumstances would be.
by Gintarė Adamonytė