Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


Italy is a country with an enormous number of historical hamlets, rural villages and medieval walled towns affected by population decline, many of which were abandoned in the 1900s and today have become ‘ghost towns’. While neglected, and even shunned for the greater part of the twentieth century, a new wave of political and popular interest in Italy’s ghost towns, coupled with an increasing number of initiatives to resuscitate them, suggest that the presumed destinies of Italy’s small historic villages (of decline, ruin and oblivion), may be overturned. Contemporary interest in Italy’s emptying towns is not an isolated phenomenon, but is related to a recent explosion of interest and action in abandoned sites throughout the world characterised by new ways of describing, perceiving and interacting with abandoned places; no longer as rubbish but as resources. The spread of ghost towns in Italy and the practice of re-awakening them have attracted the attention of popular spheres, yet have remained relatively unexplored in academia. Only a small number of studies in the architectural and anthropological disciplines prevail. The present thesis provides insight into these relatively unexplored phenomena and can contribute to a better understanding of the unique way that people are perceiving and interacting with abandoned places in the twenty-first century.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.