Poggioreale is one of the most shocking places you’ll probably ever see in your life! It is a ghost town that sits in the center of western Sicily: it used to be a nice place since during the night between the 14th and 15th of January 1968 an earthquake completely devastated the area know as Valle del Belice (Belice Valley). Some small villages were severely devastated, among them Gibellina (we talked about it a few days ago), Salaparuta, Montevago and Poggioreale were so damaged that have been rebuilt from scratch in another place.
Driving to Poggioreale is a long way, you have to enter the deeper Sicily, those parts that are accessible only by car, far from the touristic routes. The sun is brilliant as you would expect and you cross these beautiful landscapes, surrounded by a sensation of peaceful abandonment that really characterize this amazing island!
There’s only one road you can take to Ruderi di Poggioreale if you come from western Sicily and it crosses all the cities seriously involved in the earthquake and left in state of abandonment since then. But Poggioreale is different: you have to drive up on the hills a few kilometers on a road that just drives into this complex of more than 100 houses, most of them still standing but seriously damaged. The town used to be very nice and it was founded during the 17th century by a local marquis as an agricultural village to host the people that worked in the lands.
The buildings are still very well recognizable, most of them are houses, but you can actually see a library, a school, a church, a bakery and a beautiful square. When you arrive into it you just stand still for a while, then you turn around and nobody is there, but the feeling of a recent life in that place is real: it’s a strange situation, a very strong sensation.
It’s sad to walk down these roads and think about the possibilities that may be today are still realizable, because even if it’s very expensive to restore it, it is not possible to let this place die: it’s a part of our history and like every abandoned building around the world that we’re leaving behind, it’s an important opportunity we’re missing!