Ghost towns of Sardinia
There are many reasons to love Sardinia: the beaches, the crystal clear sea, the fragrant air and the intact traditions in most of its territory. But the truest, deepest reason is perhaps its ability to amaze anyone, from tourists to the inhabitants themselves, who never stop to discover it.
And amazement comes alive again or lights up every time mysterious stories and legends that seem to have been written especially for certain places re-emerge from our past. Like those that inhabit the ghost towns of Sardinia, once flourishing and later abandoned.
Enjoy the overview of the ghost towns in Sardinia which maintain a halo of mystery and where the silence is deafening.
A few kilometers from Bonorva (SS) lies Rebeccu, a medieval village now abandoned that was a thriving and vibrant town around 1300. History has it that it was the famine and especially malaria that decimated the population. Nonetheless, the legend says something else.
Princess Donoria, daughter of King Beccu, was forced to leave the country charged of witchcraft. It was the population of the country to insistently ask the King his condemnation and ban and when the King gave in, Princess Donoria went away throwing a curse that still remembers: “Rebeccu, Rebecchei da ‘e trinta domos non movei” (That Rebeccu does not exceed thirty houses).
Little by little Rebeccu’s families moved to the plain below, founding Bonorva which, over the years, became a very populous center. And Rebeccu slowly fell into sleep, until it silently faded away.
Old Gairo, a small village in Ogliastra, was almost entirely destroyed by a terrible flood in 1951.
The ruins of old Gairo, which are located within a short distance from Gairo, the new town built around the same year, can still be visited even if for security reasons visitors can’t enter into the crumbling houses.
Even today, the ruins of Gairo have a special charm that grows striking on foggy days: skeletons of gutted houses where nature has taken possession of the walls, stand out against the valley.The name Gairo seems to derive from two words of Greek origin: “Gea” and “Reo”, or land that flows. The same name, by coincidence, suggests the historical evolution of the country: in the valley three countries were born after the flood: Gairo Sant’Elena, Gairo Taquisara and Gairo Cardedu, only called Cardedu by locals.
For those who want to explore the surrounding area here, as for Rebeccu, you can find a beautiful nuragic complex, the Nuraghe Serbissi, consisting of several circular tholos towers and a small village of huts. Near the nuraghe also two tombs of giants may be visited.
The Village of Santa Chiara
The village of Santa Chiara was built to accommodate the community of workers who built the Tirso dam and was abandoned following the construction of a new reservoir.
Isabella Flore, born in Busachi 88 years ago, spent most of her life in the village of Santa Chiara, built on the Tirso dam by engineers Angelo Omodeo and Giulio Dolcetta.
Since 1986 she has lived in the village and, since 1997, she has been the only inhabitant.
Today, Isabella Flore is fighting for the preservation of the village and its transformation into a shelter for abused women and children.
The village of Lollove is located a few kilometers from Nuoro and although not yet completely uninhabited, is one of the most mysterious villages to visit.
Also in this case, as for Rebeccu, it is said that the village was inhabited and that a curse led it to turn into a ghostly place.
The curse was launched by the nuns of the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalein: having discovered the presumed relationship between some of the nuns and the local shepherds, the nuns had been forced to leave. While running away from the monastery, they launched a tremendous anathema: “Lollove as a esser che s’abba de su mare: no as a crescher nen parescher mai”. Translated, it sounds like this: “Lollove, may you be like the water of the sea: you will not grow and you will never die!”
In the overview of the ghost towns of Sardinia, we can’t mention the Taloro Village built – like the Village Santa Chiara – to accommodate workers with families during the construction of the Taloro dam. The construction dates back to the ’60s: houses and offices were gradually abandoned between the end of the ’80s and the middle of the ’90s. Along with the offices, many buildings and common areas were built, such as the cinema, the school and a church. Some houses are unsafe, others are – despite the years – in good condition. The landscape is still breathtakingly beautiful and worth a trip. It is possible to visit the Taloro Village only during the “Open Power Plants” event organized annually by Enel to illustrate the operation of hydroelectric power plants.
In the Iglesiente lies the famous Asproni Village, founded in 1870 by the engineer Giorgio Asproni, to exploit the mineral resources of the area and provide accommodation for the miners and their families.
The Asproni Village includes – in addition to the mines and the equipment for processing the extracted materials – the sumptuous villa where Giorgio Asproni lived with his family, the lodgings, a shop, a warehouse and a school.
The story tells of the flourishing period, which lasted until 1936, experienced by the community and the decline, which occurred after 30 years following the general crisis of the mining industry in Sardinia, when the mine had already been sold by the Asproni family after the death of the head of the family.
If the story is clear and linear, the legends told about the Asproni Village are full of mystery.
It is said that the ghost of Cavalier Luigi Toro still wanders around the place and shows itself in a sudden vortex of wind with the appearance of a headless knight. Toro, elected mayor of Gonnesa in 1906, faced violently a protest called by the miners against the harsh working conditions and repressed it by firing squads.
Three people were killed and about 200 arrested. A fierce episode that marked indelibly the figure of the mayor.