Italy has literally hundreds of small villages hidden away, mountain borghi where everyone knows everyone else, small island communities where daily life has remained unchanged over the years. But, statistically, there are only 55 towns that have their own local council and elected mayor listed with a population of less than 100 residents. Smaller places do exist, for example my village contains just nine houses, but, like many others, it is part of a larger municipality.
Italy’s smallest towns with their own active councils (Comune) are in the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont; the sizes are determined by the population size rather than the town’s footprint area.
The smallest recorded Italian town is Pedesina, with just 34 people recorded on the comune residency list at present. Situated in the Province of Sondrio in Lombardy, the village has its own bar and local shop and throughout the summer, like larger municipalities, hosts its own festa.
The remote town of Morterone in Lombardy, 50 km from Milan, has 35 citizens and the local council is made up of a third of the town’s entire population. A few years ago, Morterone held the title of smallest community in Italy until a couple decided to settle there and have children. The nearest school is however a 15 km drive away on heart-stopping mountain roads.
The town of Moncenisio, situated 73 km west of Turin in Piedmont is at an altitude of 1461 m and therefore winters can be harsh. On average, during the winter months, it has just 10 permanent residents, with its numbers swelling in the warmer summer months. Moncenisio fails to win the accolade for being the smallest town as there are 50 registered citizens on its electoral roll.
Huddled in a valley, 1004 metres above sea level, is the town of Cervatto, Piedmont. At just 9km², the town has 37 families listed in the Comune information page, totalling just 49 full time residents. The town has a local store that opens from 7 am to 9 pm, its own pizzeria and a hotel, which is a good thing as this pretty town with panoramic views of the Alps swells in number to around 600 inhabitants during Easter and the holiday month of August.
Also in Piedmont is the town of Ingria, made up of five small hamlets that are perfect for lovers of nature. The town has 49 full time residents whose numbers are temporarily increased by visiting hikers who enjoy the many trails that weave in and out of the stunning Alpine landscape. The town has no holiday accommodation, with the nearest hotel being 9km away in Pont-Canavese.
Finally, I know this should be about the five smallest municipalities, but I couldn’t resist telling you about the sixth smallest Italian population. This belongs to the town of Maccastorna in Lombardy, which despite only having 67 villagers on the electoral roll, has 70 ghostly full-time residents who were murdered on 24th July 1406. The spectres of the people killed at the castle in Maccastorna, which is known locally as the Castle of the Seventy Phantoms, are said to wail and protest noisily on the anniversary of the massacre.
*Electoral roll figures correct at time of writing.