Forget Rome’s hundreds of tourist attractions and busy roads; Italy holds nearly twenty thousand mysterious and captivating ghost towns. The houses of Caprauna in the Ligurian hills were once filled with families, until the main road was extended to the top of the hill, which made it easier for people to leave.
And leave, they did.
Just one older couple still lives there, and some families visit for holidays. For Vittoria Bortolazzo, it’s the epitome of peacefulness. She’s a young Milanese business owner, and is blowing a new wind of positivity through these ruins. Together with her boyfriend and anyone willing to help, she is building “CapraUnica”: an ecovillage vibrant with life.
Equilibrium between life and nature is at the centre of the project. As we met, Vittoria had just planted the first crops with the goal of becoming completely self-sustainable. In an area known for its rich agriculture, here they take an entirely plant-based approach. Alongside the road already grow mature cherry and lemon trees and if searched for carefully, you can find wild mushrooms and asparagus.
Vittoria switched to a strict raw vegan lifestyle to manage the symptoms of a chronic illness. Her inspiring choice is reflected in the project: natural ingredients from the garden go straight to the plate – it doesn’t get any more eco-friendly than this. In future, she will also run courses in healthy eating and gardening.
This lifestyle interconnects with her idea that animals are equal to humans. The village has an animal sanctuary, where rescued animals await a beautiful life. So far they adopted a dog and Sally, a friendly light-pink pig (yes, she has her own Facebook page). Any animal that needs a new home/family is welcome to join Sally.
In these deserted villages, houses are sold ridiculously cheap (or even for free). Builders are in the process of renovating these ruins into homes to host more visitors. En route to Caprauna we passed huge wind turbines, and the village will use renewable energy also.
The ultimate goal is to attract new residents to repopulate the area and spread the idea of living in harmony with your natural surroundings. In a world mainly focused on work and monetary success, they want to create a community that values nature and sharing.
Vittoria’s project wouldn’t be possible without the help of like-minded people who volunteer or help out in any way they can. All skills are needed – from carpenters to social media specialists. They believe in technology, so you won’t miss out on Wi-Fi.
If you want to get involved in regenerating this ghost town, message firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch on their workaway profile.