Home UrbexGhost Town Ghost towns in central Italy: abandoned villages near Viterbo

Ghost towns in central Italy: abandoned villages near Viterbo

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
When I was a child, I used to spend all my summer holidays at my grandparents’ house in
When I was a child, I used to spend all my summer holidays at my grandparents’ house in Nepi, a little village near Viterbo (Lazio). For three long –and somehow exhausting- months my whole world was relegated to the house’s garden; obviously I didn’t like to go to the countryside, because once there I was trapped and I remember I was always longing for some car-equipped adult to bring me outside the place, even if only to do the grocery at the village.

Time passed and since I’ve got my own driving license every visit to my grandparents’ house in Nepi is full of surprises, as I’m getting to know the surrounding area of Tuscia, with the beautiful town of Viterbo and many enchanting villages from the Etruscan time, the unspoiled countryside and several beautiful lakes (such as Lake Martignano or Lake Vico) perfect to escape the beach crowd during the summer; and I must say that this beautiful area of central Italy is really underrated!
And so, after my visit to Bomarzo and its “Monster Park”, this time I drove around the area of Viterbo looking for ghost towns and abandoned places.

Ghost towns in Central Italy > FALERII NOVI

My first stop was at Falerii Novi, which is only a few kilometers from Nepi. When I went out of the car, two stray dogs came and welcomed me on the main road: they are the guardians of the flock pasturing in the unspoiled countryside surrounding the abandoned town of Falerii Novi, a ghost town whose charm is due to the rural atmosphere of the place.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

The site is now abandoned and, besides the Church of Santa Maria and the Abbey, there are no other buildings standing but just ruins and the remains of the city walls made of red tuff.

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
I entered the ghost town of Falerii Novi through the Porta di Giove, which happens to be the first example of Etruscan arch, and wandered around the area.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

The original town of Falerii (called Falerii Veteres) was one of the twelve chief cities of Etruria; it was destroyed by Romans in 241 BC and then rebuilt 5 kilometres away with the name of Falerii Novi (New Falerii).

The Roman town of Falerii Novi was then abandoned in the 10th century after being destroyed by the Normans: its inhabitants went back to the site of Falerii Veteres, which was then called (and still is) Civita Castellana.
Even if Falerii Novi was already abandoned, here during the 12th century there were built the Abbey and the Church of Santa Maria; the church has been abandoned in 1798 while the Abbey, abandoned from the 14th century, has been turned into a farm.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

Ghost towns in Central Italy > CELLENO

Built on a tuff spur right after the “New Celleno”, the ghost town of Celleno is a hilltop hamlet fully endowed with the charm of an abandoned place where the time has stopped.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
Located about 15 kilometres north of Viterbo, Celleno was a strategic point and an important junction from its establishment during the Etruscan times.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

The village was abandoned in 1855 after an earthquake, which was only the last of several sad circumstances –among which a plague and a landslide- that had devastated the town.

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

I found especially fascinating the area of Piazza del Comune, bordered by the Romanesque Church of San Donato, the Orsini Castle, the clock tower (which charmingly lost its clock) and the Church of San Carlo (or –better- its ruins).

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

Another beautiful aspect of the ghost town of Celleno is the fact that you can glimpse at the abandoned interiors of its houses, which were built in red tuff and were small like cells (hence the name of the village, from “cella”, which means “cell” in Italian).

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

Circumnavigating the ghost town you can also enjoy a great view over the surrounding valley, hopefully realizing that the landscape of Northern Lazio is as good as the way more popular scenery of nearby Tuscany!

abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

Ghost towns in Central Italy > CHIA VECCHIA

It was getting dark, but I still had the time to visit one more ghost town and so I drove until the village of Chia to explore its abandoned neighborhood at the top of the spur.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
This area is called Chia Vecchia (Old Chia) and you can enter it from an arch at the end of Piazza Garibaldi; it consists of a fortified medieval hamlet built on a rocky spur, which has been abandoned during the 1950s when its inhabitants moved to the newer buildings of “downtown” Chia.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
The “ghost neighborhood” of Chia is a maze of narrow alleys climbing a tuff spur until a panoramic terrace; the place is so charming that the director Pier Paolo Pasolini felt in love with it and in 1970 he bought the tower of Chia, spending there the latest years of his life.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy

BONUS TRACK: FERENTO

A few kilometres from Celleno (and just 6 kilometers from Viterbo) you will find the ruins of the Ancient Roman town of Ferentum, which was a very rich town specialized in the processing and trading of both iron and tuff, inhabited by craftsmen and powerful merchants.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
During the winter the archaeological area (consisting of an amphitheatre and a thermal pool) is abandoned and left to itself, while there is a cultural festival going on during the summer, which ranges from theatre to opera and from ballet to music.
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
abandoned places in Lazio Italy
Lazio region is full of ghost towns and I’m planning to explore them all! This time I’ve been in the area around Viterbo; stick around and you will read several more volumes of this “Abandoned Lazio” series (or subscribe to the newsletter to be sure to get them all in your inbox!). 
If you know about some ghost towns or abandoned places in Lazio and you would like to recommend them for my “Abandoned Lazio” series let me know in the comment area below!

Check out my ‘Abandoned Italy‘ series!

 

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