The ghost town of Poggioreale destroyed by the Belice Valley earthquake

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Poggioreale is a small town located in the Belice Valley in the western part of the island of Sicily, Italy. Actually there are two towns with the same name just few kilometers apart.

The old town now is a ghost town that sleeps in silence. The whole area was destroyed during the devastating Belice Valley earthquake that occurred between 14th and 15th January 1968.

The remains of the town of Poggioreale Photo credit

Series of massive shocks hit this part of the Mediterranean. Around 900 people died and hundreds were injured. Ten towns and villages were seriously damaged. The authorities decided to build new houses and villages for those who survived.

People moved there leaving their former homes in ruins. New towns were born and the old ones were left as monuments and a historic reminder of the past of Sicily.

The island of Sicily Photo credit

The roots of the Sicilian culture can be traced in the dawn of the human civilization. The land of Sicily, is a deeply connected part of the Mediterranean basin, has multiple layers of life. The first settlements were built many centuries ago.

Some of them have survived, but some of the them vanished. Others were rebuilt near their last locations. The story of the town of Poggioreale is similar. It was demolished by natural forces in 1968 and was rebuild in another place, near the graveyard of the old settlement.

The earthquake in 1968 was devastating Photo credit


The Church Photo credit

The destroyed buildings Photo credit

The haunting streets of Poggioreale are now empty and overgrown with vegetation. The foundation of the buildings have become unstable. The buildings are crumbling slowly and unpredictable over the last 50 years. The entrance of the town, that was called Old Steps, was one of the main points of the everyday life of the inhabitants of Poggioreale. Most of them were children, women and elders, because the young male population worked on mainland Italy.

At the Main Square (Piazza Centrale) can be seen the remains of the Bell Tower and other significant structures. Artisans workshops, bakery and barbershop on the Elimo Square are still recognizable. The spectrum of rubble is enormous.

Sicilian landscape Photo credit


Vineyards and olive groves stretch to the Mediterranean along the Belice Valley Photo credit

The local economy is primarily based on agriculture and fruit cultivation. The fertile valley of the river Belice is excellent place for vineyards. The valley is famous for the production of colorful roses. Watermelons and yellow melons are also the pride of Sicily. The region is visited by tourists entire year. The colors of the ruined towns of Sicily are part of the beautiful pastoral palette of the picture of the long Sicilian landscapes.

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