Unusual Places in Italy: The Village of Pentedattilo in Calabria


Luoghi insoliti in Italia: il borgo di Pentedattilo in Calabria
Pentedattilo in Calabria

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Perched on the cliff of Mount Calvary, at 250 meters above sea level, the formerly abandoned village of Pentedattilo is one of the most picturesque in the southern Italian region of Calabria. 

Pentedattilo, which until recently was called Pentidattilo, takes its name from the curious shape of the mountain that towers above it, which is reminiscent of a cyclopean hand with five fingers - from the Greek pènta-darektylos, or ‘five fingers’. (Pentedattilo is comprised in that area of Calabria that was once dominated by the Greeks.)

Right under the mountain, in medieval times, the Castle was built first, and then all around the ancient village, which stands in the midst of a beautiful natural landscape, including the Valle di Sant’Elia, with its sandstone fortresses, set amid expanses of gorse, olive trees, mulberry trees, prickly pears, almond trees and mimosas.

Pentedattilo’s foundation dates back to the 9th century, built as a defense post in the Reggio Calabria area against Saracen raids. During the Greco-Roman period, Pentedattilo was an important economic and military center thanks to its strategic position, from which it controlled the roads to reach the mountainous region of Aspromonte.

What used to be the ancient village was definitively abandoned in 1971, after it had been declared uninhabitable three years earlier; by that time the population had migrated slightly further downstream, forming a new small center from which the old ghost town could be seen.

However, in recent years, a number of activities have helped revive the village: local artisans and artists have opened workshops of wood, glass and ceramics, where they work and sell their products; the Museum of Popular Traditions opened; and the village’s small stone houses, surrounded by prickly pears, have been turned into ‘albergo diffuso’ structures.


Arroccato sulla rupe del Monte Calvario, a 250 metri sul livello del mare, l'ex villaggio abbandonato di Pentedattilo è uno dei più pittoreschi della regione meridionale della Calabria.

Pentedattilo, che fino a poco tempo fa si chiamava Pentidattilo, prende il nome dalla curiosa forma del monte che lo sovrasta, che ricorda una mano ciclopica con cinque dita - dal greco pènta-darektylos, ovvero ‘cinque dita’. (Pentedattilo fa parte di quella zona della Calabria un tempo dominata dai

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