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How The Lone Resident Of This Italian Ghost Town Has Literally Put It Back On The Map

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How The Lone Resident Of This Italian Ghost Town Has Literally Put It Back On The Map

74-year-old Giuseppe Spagnuolo is the last resident in Roscigno Vecchia - a charming 19th-century rural town in Italy’s southern Campania region developed around a central square and church.

Spagnuolo is unfazed by the isolation in the small town, living a full life; he told The Guardian: “If you’ve experienced the school of life like I have, then you can easily live this way.”

His day usually begins around 6am, where he wakes and pats the stray cats or, as he calls them, his ‘security guards’, washes his face at the local water fountain, and if his ‘aches and pain’ allow it, he may walk to the next town over for a coffee.

Spagnuolo, who works as a farmer and custodian of the museum in Roscigno Vecchia, lives in one of many of Italy’s abandoned towns currently trying to seek EU’s post-Covid recovery fund to help bring the area back to life.


The small hamlet was founded in 1515 when a monk established a retreat, and soon after that, houses, shops, stables and a church were built.

But in the early 20th century, Roscigno Vecchia was far from a ghost town as it was estimated around 1,200 people lived in the small village at the time. However, residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to landslide risks.

Roscigno Nuovo was built no more than 1km away. However, many didn’t live there until the 1960s, when malaria struck.


Spagnuolo was born in northern Italy, in the region of Lombardy, where he left home at 14 and found work as an apprentice carpenter. 

While working as a construction labourer in Switzerland, he met his wife and shortly after, they moved into the village Roscigno Nuovo, where they lived with his father-in-law and their four kids.

However, while raising a family under the same roof as his father-in-law, Spagnuolo admittedly told The Guardian the home ‘wasn’t big enough for two grown men.’

As a result, in 1997, Spagnuolo moved to Roscigno Vecchia into a deserted house with no running water or electricity.


And despite the move, his wife still lives in Roscigno Nuovo, and they remain on good terms. 

Mayor Pino Palmieri said that Spagnuolo - who’s often referred to as the ‘the last inhabitant’ of Roscigno Vecchia, has cultivated fame worldwide and helped put the town back on the map.


 “Giuseppe had the intelligence to occupy a space that was empty, and create a personality … so people come and find him, and he tells them the story of Roscigno.”


He provides a service, which I don’t have to pay for.”

After being denied eligibility for the covid recovery funds, Mayor Palmieri says he is now trying to restore the town to help bring tourism and turn the area into a center for archaeological and geological studies.

“Giuseppe is like a point of reference for tourists,”

“And combined with that, we would like to encourage people to stay for a few days by investing in our other resources.”

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Good News, News, Travel

Charisa Bossinakis
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