Castelpoto - probably Italy's most uncommon ghost town (June 2021)

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B W T

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Castelpoto #01

by Broken Window Theory

In southern Italy, there are countless ghost towns, only populated nowadays by animals and plants. But this place is different... This is Castelpoto. After a disastrous earthquake decades ago, villagers collectively decided not to abandon their homes. The citizens did not want to relocate, but they could not live in their ravaged homes either. So instead, they decided to build a new part of town - directly adjacent to the old ruins. On a summer day, we came here to explore Castelpoto. We met with locals who showed us around and also told us about their lives in this unique municipality.


Castelpoto #03

by Broken Window Theory

Castelpoto is about 50 kilometers northeast of Naples. Located on a hill, surrounded by mountains and hard to reach in the past, people settled here over a millennium ago. Today, just over 1,000 Castelpotani are living in the community - actually, quite a lot for a ghost town. By Italian standards, this is a unique situation.


Castelpoto #02

by Broken Window Theory

The castle was why this place has been called Castelpoto. Today, it is a symbol of how time has stopped here. From this point on begins the area where no one lives or even goes anymore. But in the area up to here, it's alternating: one house is abandoned, one inhabited, the next abandoned, then inhabited again...


Castelpoto #27

by Broken Window Theory

The abandoned houses of Castelpoto are windows to the past. What we see here is a world that has long since disappeared. Along with everyday objects, we find vintage furniture, scraps of newspapers, and also personal things, including photos and even diplomas - all of them left behind 40 years ago, and never retrieved since then. By now, most of the houses belong to the municipality, and you can buy each one for 1 EUR (with the obligation to restore them). With a government subsidy, it's easier to restore these buildings - even with only a little capital.


Castelpoto #10

by Broken Window Theory

The fateful earthquake from 1980, and another big one around 20 years prior to that, were not the first great challenges for this community - and certainly were not the last either. In fact, fate has never been lenient with Castelpoto, and its survival on the top of the hill has been tested time and again. In the 17th century, the plague depopulated the town. A third of the inhabitants disappeared as a result. Shortly after, there was a massive earthquake that destroyed much of Castelpoto, killing many people. Then, 150 years later, cholera broke out. Castelpoto barely had time to recover from both world wars before the two recent major earthquakes, which put the community to the test for the last time… so far. In the past decades, a part of the population left, but those who stayed came closer together. To us, Castelpotani seem very resilient.


Castelpoto #20

by Broken Window Theory

In southern Italy, the balconies and narrow alleys are a meeting place for locals - especially on summer evenings. In this region, it is a clear sign of an active and vibrant community. Castelpoto is no exception - never has been. Our guess is that Castelpoto could be hit by many more disasters, but people here will always get up again. And what has been destroyed, they rebuild - even if this can take a while, maybe even longer than in other places. But here, perhaps, time simply passes more slowly. And in some corners, time doesn't pass at all...


Castelpoto #34

by Broken Window Theory

If you are curious and want to see way more of this unique Italian ghost town, you can watch our exploration video on YouTube:

 

B W T

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What might be the legal problems with the original video?
One building we entered was still privately owned. That person made her lawyer contact us to tell us we had to take our video offline. To avoid any legal troubles, we decided to remove any footage showing the inside of that house and re-uploaded that episode to our channel.
 

Hayman

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One building we entered was still privately owned. That person made her lawyer contact us to tell us we had to take our video offline. To avoid any legal troubles, we decided to remove any footage showing the inside of that house and re-uploaded that episode to our channel.
Perhaps the wise thing to do. Discretion being the better part of valour. But when does an abandoned building become no longer owned?
 
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