Small castle, approximately 471 above sea level, placed on top of a hill that surrounds the Valley of Nestore River. Its origins are unknown although several legends report that the castle was founded in “1330 of the World”. Completely abandoned, and the reasons are unknown…
Nice isn’t it? The description got Stanito’s curiosity straight away, I mean, we have (1) unknown origins plus (2) abandoned castle for more unknown reasons and a (3) weird dating method!
The name itself, the ghost town of Cibottola, also has myths around it, but let’s start with the dating system instead which is more interesting: whenever you hear or read about “18… of the world” it refers to the Byzantine dating method traced back in the beginning of the world in 1508, before Christian era. Such method was used even after the Byzantine Empire fall.
About the name of the place Cibottola, there are several theories: the name either comes from Cibonia, ancient Etruscan town, or Chibertola, whose etymological roots are unknown. Finally, it might come from Cibizio, a guy who built and enlarged the area including Cibottola.
The remains of the little town (or simply castle since it’s so small) are impressive, the front door is still intact, the tower of 20 mts high is above a secret tunnel that runs for about 500 mts along the slope of the hill. Oh, and unlike other castles this one has a double fortification as you will be able to appreciate in the photos.
The entrance with the heptagonal tower, with 7 sides
The secret tunnel which runs for 500 mts along the hill slope
The main entrance, completely empty like the rest of the town…
Inside the top of the tower there is a 500 kg bell
Oh, and it was very cold day, I could barely keep my eyes open and the fogg was spooky
This is the back yard, we walked through it and I found many pieces of black rock and carbonized material. Could it be that the town was emptied after a fire?
A piece of the second wall that surrounds the property
I sneaked around for information on why the place is abandoned and I was very pleased to hear the theories:
1- Medieval convent that was cursed and later haunted made the inhabitants (75 people) escape in a hurry (not surprised they hurried!)
2- A plague infested the castle and convent inhabitants and they all died because of it (since it was around the year 1700 it could be a fair explanation). As I was told, there were at least two plagues that came in succession.
3- The only remaining people living there, few nuns, a priest, the bell-ringer and a peasant, were keeping a treasure hidden inside the little church and such treasure went missing. After the theft, these people disappeared leaving no trace (this is what a local person told me, who affirms to have met the priest and the peasant). I asked about a plague and a fire, he remembers no such thing. Mmmm…
Below is the little church, inside there used to be a crucifix from the year 1600. At some point it was stolen one night along with the treasure. Many years later, the crucifix was found and taken to the next town called Pietrafitta
I tried to get in but it was impossible
However, in spite of asking people, researching around, the mystery remains unsolved… What was the treasure that was stolen? Why was the crucifix never returned to Cibottola’s church (still inhabited by then)? What made the 75 people escape the town?
As usual, I was not happy with the little information I had at that point, and since my friend knew the place (we were invited to her cabin near Cibottola) I had to dig in!
Stanito: “So, you must know what happened… Was it a plague? A fire? ’cause I found burned rocks in the back yard, remember?”
M: “I think it was a plague, followed by a second one, but I’m not sure…” while having a glass of red wine
Stanito: “When did the first one happen?” I had wine too, which was a delightful combination given the conversation topic! 🙂
M: “Maybe around 1800, the second one I’m not sure”
Stanito: “Interesting, so the only survivors were the nuns, the priest and the peasant?”
M: “Seems like it”
Stanito: “… Why would the peasant remain in the abandoned-infested town if even the treasure was already gone?”
M: “I don’t know… Go ask his ghost!” She didn’t seem intrigued by her neighboring ghost town, unbelievable!
Stanito: “Mich! You have a ghost town right up on the hill, aren’t you excited? :D”
M: “Do you want more wine?”
Not satisfied with answers she gave, I will continue with the search of truth surrounding Cibottola…