From Rome’s Colosseum to the eerie remains of Pompeii, there’s no better destination for photographers in search of ancient ruins than Italy. The patina of time lies especially thick in Sicily, where architectural remains include those left by Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Saracens and the noble families of Medieval Italy. Sicily even has modern ruins to explore. Old state road SS119 climbs into the vineyards and olive groves above the Valle del Belice in southwest Sicily. Here you can wander the ruins caused by one of the island’s biggest natural disasters, a catastrophic earthquake that destroyed several towns in January 1968, including Poggioreale and Gibellina.
Seeking Ruins in Sicily
Theatre boxes in Poggioreale have held only wind and rain since January 15, 1968.
Poggioreale was founded in 1642, on a glorious hillside perch called the ‘podium regale.’
It’s safer to walk in the centre of Poggioreale’s main road, away from snakes that may lurk in abandoned buildings, but no one will stop you from peeking inside.
The blue ceiling of Poggioreale's Chiesa Madre has been open to the blue sky for over 40 years.
Faded vestiges of paint are clues to long-ago grace.
The grand steps of the Piazza Elimo once thronged with Carnival revellers. Today, film crews occasionally visit.
Dust and seed blow into abandoned buildings and wild gardens burst from the cracks in the walls.
Only the cemetery still stands in old Gibellina, with many tombstones bearing the final deadly date of January 15, 1968.
The community of Gibellina was eventually relocated and the old town's rubble was encased in a tomblike work of art (called Cretto) by the artist Burri.
A motorcycle or small car is needed to negotiate the hairpin curves and occasional rockfalls of Sicily's SS119.
You Might Also Like…