Valle Piola is a deserted village in the province of Teramo, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It is part of the municipality of Torricella Sicura. Having been abandoned in 1977, all that remains are 9 abandoned houses, a church, and the ruins of a shepherds’ shelter. The village has recently received renewed interest from the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park authorities with the aim of restoring and revitalizing the village and its environs.
Perhaps the first written document mentioning Valle Piola dates back to the year 1059. Early records show that the area surrounding Valle Piola, along with the adjoining lands of Monti della Laga, enjoyed a semi-autonomous status. Such rights have been codified by recognizing Valle Piola as a rural community.
In the years following 1152 the mountain areas of the region lost population, as people made their way to the much larger provincial capital of Teramo. One well known family from Teramo, the De Valle’s, is likely to come from Valle Piola, possibly from Case Menghini.
Because of its isolated nature, the people of Valle Piola were by necessity very self sufficient. Since it took hours by foot or mule to reach the nearest town, Teramo, they were also well organized and prepared for the hardships they faced, especially those encountered in the long, cold winter months. Virtually every house in the village had an adjacent animal stall which used to shelter the family cows, steers, pigs, and horses and a small garden for the cultivation of potatoes and other vegetables.
Many of the people from Valle Piola were illiterate and spoke a Lombardic dialect which was virtually incomprehensible to residents of the neighboring villages. Historically, the most educated and cultured resident was the local priest. More recently, the school master would also have fit this description.
From the 13th century until the time of the Italian Risorgimento (Italian unification), Valle Piola served as a meeting center and hideout for armed brigands who made this area their home. During the Second World War the Italian resistance fighters staged in this area, along with Bosco Martese and other nearby forests of Monti della Laga in their struggles against the occupying German forces. In present times the area surrounding Valle Piola is used mainly for the grazing of livestock. Only one shepherd has remained in the area, living in a new small house that has recently been constructed during the summer months.
In recent years Valle Piola has been object of attention from the Gran Sasso National Park authorities who are looking for ways to restore and revitalize the surroundings. The plans for this project were presented to the public at a festival known as “Festa di Fine Estate” (Summer’s End Festival). Included in this undertaking is the construction of a hotel incorporating as many of the remaining buildings as possible. A model for these efforts is the nearby town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio which has successfully preserved the atmosphere and architectural integrity of an ancient Italian mountain village. Alternatively, the village may end up on the property market as there are recent reports suggesting that a guide price of half a million euros is being sought.
Text from Wikipedia, Valle Piola