Ghost towns from Italy: Galeria Antica

Galeria Antica stands in the countryside north of Rome, just 8 km away from the Braccianese Way. A ghost town buried by vegetation like the ancient Maya ruins, an incredible maze of castle vestiges, Etruscan houses, tombs and places of worship.
Its origins get lost in the mist of time…probably founded under Etruscan domination with the name of Careia, it was a town of little importance guarding the southern borders of Etruscan territory. Later it was colonised by the Romans, as attested by some pointed arches and by some constructions built with the “opus incertum” technique. Galeria then fell during the Germanic invasions, and was populated again only during the Middle Ages. After being seized and destroyed by the Saracens, it was rebuilt and extended, and from 1276 it belonged to the Orsini family. After passing through many owners, it ended in the hands of the Sanseverino family, with whom the town suffered a slow decline until a terrible malaria epidemic decimated its population. In 1809, Galeria Antica was left abandoned.
Malaria was not rare at the time, as the place was subject to the frequent floods from the Arrone creek. What remains a mystery is the reason behind an abandonment so sudden that the people left behind not only tools and furnishings, but even the bodies of their dead, who were buried only half a century later…
After it was left deserted, Galeria became shelter for the shepherds and booty for the bandits, and today its only inhabitants are lizards, birds and vipers living in a twine of brambles and climbing plants. Amongst its ruins are still visible the St. Andrew’s Church’s bell tower, a still intact fortified bastion, the ancient main gate to the dead city, the guard tower still showing faded traces of its clock, and the vestiges of the castle, with its extraordinary system of gates and walls. In its square are still found the ghostly remains of the oven of the governor’s house and of a church. At the town’s secondary gate, the beautiful Roman access arch made of red bricks is still standing. But it is underneath that the ghost town hides its secret, a crypt with its labyrinth of tunnels that still are, and maybe will forever be, unexplored…
An old legend tells of a ghost minstrel named “Senz’affanni” (which means roughly “No worries”), who died around 300 years ago and who returns every year in Galeria, singing and playing for his beloved woman while riding a white horse. Many affirm they heard hoofs and moans, especially in winter. Those who do not believe in the story of the ghost say these sounds are made by the rushing Arrone creek.
Galeria Antica was declared a Natural Monument in 1999, but unfortunately it still remains prey to vandalisms and to unknown sects that use it at night for their ceremonies, attracted by the mysterious aura of a place oozing with death…

Image gallery on ORIGINAL POST 

(Translation by Marco Salvadori

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