I visited Sicily in May 2017, rented a car, sleeping in the trunk, and tour around the whole island. Together with my partner, we were interested mostly in history, architecture but also nature and geology, and boy... there was a lot to see! The way we travel gives freedom to move and allows visiting many places in a short time, and during our 10days trip, Poggioreale and famous Etna were the most interesting places for me.
In 1968 neighborhood of Poggioreale was impacted with a 6.1 Richter strong earthquake which killed 400 people and another 100000 lost their homes, it was one of the strongest earthquakes in Italian history. Poggioreale was demolished completely, and all its inhabitants were relocated around 4 kilometers further, where tectonic conditions are better and should provide safety in the future.
We arrived at the entrance of the town just after 5 pm, two cute stray dogs welcomed us warmly, fence and information about monitoring were less friendly though. Dogs were starving and except them, nobody was there, apparently somebody took them here for sure death. Dogs ate hungrily whatever we gave then, chickpeas, bananas, apples, that was the first time I saw animals that much hungry!
After a short foray in the town, we decided to take dogs back to the closest city and look for some help for them. After a few calls, we realize animal-care organizations are virtually non-existent in the Sicily, the best way to help these dogs was just to feed them and bring them around human settlements. We bought some dog food and after a while, we went back to Poggioreale.
Most of the building was accessible easily, however very often it was pointless, except for some debris there was nothing there. One of the buildings drew our attention for a little bit longer though. It was some kind of workshop or industrial facility but we had no idea what could be produced there in the past. The owner has probably died during the earthquake, because everything seemed to be just left behind.
In many places alleys and stairs were completely taken over by weeds and young trees, it brought to my mind visions of post-apocalyptic future in the world without people, the atmosphere there is really unique. Back in the past, I have visited many abandoned places, factories, hospitals, warehouses, but the whole town is something different. Urban tissue shaped organically by many generations turns dead overnight, you really can feel the doom in this place.
Many of the resettlers refused to live in the New Poggioreale. The town was designed in a post-modern spirit, buildings are split further from each other and built of concrete. The place lacks squares and space for social interaction, because of this New Poggiorealy seems to be ghosted, resettlers claim they feel there like refugees moved 4km from their home. Poggioreale was settled in 1642 and lived harmoniously with its dwellers but sudden events forced them to find themselves in an artificial concrete environment. It turns out the earthquake destroyed many buildings, but it left the biggest mark on the local community.