To do: hunting ghosts in the ghost town of Poggioreale Vecchio

30 October 2017

With Halloween being the time of the year again, we like to take you on our own spooky adventure. During our vacation on the beautiful island of Sicily, we decided to visit the ghost town Poggioreale Vecchio (Old Poggioreale).

The history of Poggioreale

The province of Trapani, with Poggioreale being one of the cities in this province, is hit by the Belice Valley earthquake sequence in 1968. More than 200 people were killed during the earthquakes, approximately 1000 injured, and more than 100.000 people left homeless. Eventually, the survivors of Poggioreale decided to leave everything behind and rebuilt their city in the valley.

Visiting Poggioreale Vecchio

First, it takes us about three hours by car to reach Poggioreale Vecchio from Catania. While driving up to the edge of the city, we are surprised by a gate. We remember that, during our preparations, we came across a review on trip advisor which warns tourists for the gate. The review also mentioned that the fence can be avoided by walking to the right. We parked the car in front of the gate (for free!) and start to walk to the right, where, indeed, the fence ends and we can enter the city. However, despite the three hours, it is definitely worth the drive.

Then, after walking no more than 30 metres, we are confronted with a horse. We are scared shitless, we thought the city was completely abandoned. Suddenly, two aggressive dogs start to approach us and in the background, horses start to neigh. We decide to retreat by slowly walking backwards, while keeping our eyes on the dogs. After approximately 20 metres, the dogs suddenly stop walking and stay put*.

Urbexing in the ghost town Poggioreale Vecchio

After this worrying start, we decide to go around the other side of the gate. First of all, we have to climb a wall to avoid the fence. After climbing, we finally enter the city we had in our minds: lots of vegetation growing in between houses and even inside some houses. However, the first thing we notice is the lack of noise, there is an eerie silence present in the abandoned streets. Above us, dark ominous clouds begin to form, resulting in an even more scary scenery. Chills are running down our spines, but Thomas refuses to turn back and takes the lead, while Iris wants to turn around.

However, we decide to go forward with the exploration and Thomas enters the first house, making sure it is completely safe. Iris has her guard up, when suddenly she hears a yell coming from inside the house. Thomas has found some old furniture inside, confirming the fact that people left everything and ran for their lives. What a spooky experience to find a single dusty shoe in the middle of one of the rooms. We cannot shake the feeling that we are being watched. The combination of a temperature drop inside one of the rooms and the eerie silence, we decide to leave this specific house. We almost feel like we disturbed the final resting place of one of the unfortunate residents.

Next, we turn towards the main road of Poggioreale Vecchio, where the remains of the old city hall and the library are located. We decide to stay on the road, with an occasional look inside one of the buildings through their windows. However, nothing really interesting has come up. There was one building that caught our attention, an old workshop. The doors are open and we have to take a look inside.
Walking along the main road has led us to the main square, which gives an amazing panoramic photo. Then, we walk up a flight of stairs and come across one of the most typical ‘horror film’ buildings ever..

The abandoned hospital

That’s right, an abandoned hospital, including ‘GET OUT’ and ‘NO ENTRY’ signs and a stench we have never smelled before. Unfortunately for Iris, Thomas cannot shut down his curiosity and enters the hospital through a shattered wall. Step by step, Thomas slowly walks closer towards the old hospital wards and turns the corner. Minutes goes by and Iris becomes restless and begins to call his name. After a few seconds, he pops his head around the corner and says quietly that Iris should join him. You probably guessed it, but it takes some persuading to get Iris in the building.
hospital-poggioreale-vecchioFinally, after a few minutes, Iris decides to follow Thomas. After turning the corner herself, her breath stocks and what she sees blows her mind. All the medical equipment, including the charts for the patients and the IV are still present. The mattresses have dark creepy stains and the overall appearance of the room makes us turn around. However, one of the rooms in the hallway has a ‘BIOHAZARD’ sign, which makes it impossible to walk by, right? Not according to Iris, who was already outside of the hospital while Thomas was still reading the sign.. The room has multiple donor blood bags filled with a pink/light red substance. We decide it is time to move walking down the flight of stairs again, our attention is drawn into one of the smaller streets, where we see the front of a red car sticking out of a garage. When walking closer, we notice that it is an old ambulance. Unfortunately, the windshield has been vandalized by what looks like to be bullet holes?!! Things are getting weird and we take some quick photos before deciding to walk back towards our car.

Back to civilization

Initially we thought that the bullet holes in the windshield just looked like a bullet hole and were a coincidence. However, during our walk back, we found multiple coloured gun shells scattered across the ground. After close examination, they are probably gun shells for hunting small game like birds and deers.

Back at the gate, we meet Giacinto Musso, who takes care of Poggioreale Vecchio. We thank him for giving us the opportunity to explore this city and we ask him why he is here. He tells us that he takes care of the city and the stuff of the old residents. He also tells us that they are planning to renovate the whole city, but they don’t know when the renovation will start. We hope they’ll never start, to keep the history alive!


The ghost town Poggioreale Vecchio is a real must-see when you love to add some excitement to your holiday in Sicily. Don’t get scared by the fence or the dogs (and horses), but take some risk and enter this city. It’s amazing to see how powerful nature is and what the effects of a natural disaster are. We think this is a part of history that should never get lost!

Are you looking for more adventures? This blog about 9 adventurous activities in Cape Town, written by Patti, will definitely blow you away!

Would you dare to take a walk through the abandoned streets of Poggioreale Vecchio?

* The animals encountered were taking well care of. After visiting the entire city, we are greeted by a farmer, who apparently stalls his horses in the old (safe!) houses. The dogs were his guard dogs.

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