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The Old Village of Tocco Caudio – When Mother Nature has the Final Word

Nikola Petrovski
Left: On top of the ridge. Right: The empty streets. Both Photos: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0.
Left: On top of the ridge. Right: The empty streets. Both Photos: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0.

In the province of Benevento in southern Italy, there once stood a village that went by the name of Tocco Caudio.

The village, as is the case with many ancient Italian towns, was built on top of a long, narrow hill. The reason why this village is nothing more than a ghost of memory has everything to do with mother nature.

On top of the ridge. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

On top of the ridge. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The reason why this village is nothing more than a ghost of memory has everything to do with mother nature. In 1980 and 1981, a series of earthquakes took many of the homes of the residents of Tocco Caudio, and the village soon fell into decline.

Abandoned Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The village was located in a position of strategic importance. Located on a tall ridge, it was easily defensible. The roads placed on top of the hill provided a safe route for the traveler, eliminating the need for any river crossing – back in the old days it was done the harder way, through the water.

Old Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Old Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The design of Tocco Caudio is typical medieval creation with packed and narrow streets.

The empty streets. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The empty streets. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

During the 20th century, this very scheme became somewhat of a hindrance. The reason was that those same narrow streets, although perfect for people on foot, were impossible for automobile owners to move through.

The narrow streets of Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The narrow streets of Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

After the earthquakes, the village was left with too many scars to heal. The people of Tocco Caudio were leaving their homes. It seemed as though the only option available was to abandon the village and settle somewhere else.

The Italian hospitality. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The Italian hospitality. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

The residents of Tocco Caudio chose to resettle around the ridge. Such a move led to the creation of another Tocco Caudio. Today there are two villages, one being the old and abandoned village, and the other a fresh new Tocco Caudio.

Forgotten balconies. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Forgotten balconies. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Even though the townsfolk made their town anew, the memories of times past were deeply tattooed into their subconscious. A simple visit to the old town was enough to start an avalanche of memories sliding down the ridge of feelings.

No one to knock – no one to answer. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

No one to knock – no one to answer. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Everything that had historical value was lost during the years that followed the earthquake. The result of such a tragedy was that Tocco Caudio became a ghost town.

The church of Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY-SA 2.0

The church of Tocco Caudio. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY-SA 2.0

The decaying frescoes. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY-SA 2.0

The decaying frescoes. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Vitolo, CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2000, the provincial administration received a grant for the purpose of rebuilding the old church that regrettably lost its roof. With this move, the residents of Tocco Caudio are positive that they can once more relive the memories of times past.