Abandonment of the town
The country was almost totally destroyed by the progress of landslides developed between 1959 and 1972.
Numerous expert reports have proposed the geological framing of the country, highlighting the causes of landslides.
As early as 1910, the hypothesis of a threat to the country deriving from the position of Craco, “on a hill of Pliocene sands above the clays, carved by ravines in continuous progress” was configured.
Therefore the evolution of landslides has been rapid and recent. Currently on the hill of Craco it is possible to identify large and deep cracks and three important landslides are found: the “landslide of the Convent”, since the head of the landslide is located just downstream of the ancient Convent located at the gates of the town along the SS103, the “landslide of the historic center” that struck the old town making it unusable, demolishing even large retaining walls of the SS103, finally the “landslide of the Schools” which begins just upstream of the school building and therefore hits the northern end of the country.
These landslides showed their danger for the town in the early 1960s: following the dangerous evolution of the historic center landslide, around 1963, Walter Brugner of the Geological Survey of Italy carried out an inspection providing a first description of phenomenologies and indicating possible natural and anthropic causes. According to Brugner the natural cause of this landslide is the presence of water impregnating the superficial debris cover, absorbed by the underlying clays, which have caused swelling and plasticization. Among the anthropic causes, it has been observed that human settlement has led to cuts in the ground, excavation of wells and cisterns, creating new ways of infiltrating the water and breaking the balance of the soil. In addition, the losses revealed by the sewerage network and the aqueduct network, as well as the construction of powerful retaining walls on the state road that weighed down the clay and chaotic soils already predisposed to collapse, affected the phenomenon. Following the floods of 1979, the situation worsened considerably and it seems that the earthquake of 11/23/80 also contributed to housing disruptions.
Hence the transfer of the inhabited area: from the 1800 inhabitants of 1963 it has now passed to about 760, who settled in Peschiera after a series of evacuation orders, the first of which was issued in December 1963, the last in January 1991.
The town is currently abandoned by the population that moved to an area in the valley, in the Peschiera area. Another part of the inhabitants was transferred to a new district, adjacent to the historic center, near the Church of S. Maria della Stella. This area is the only one on the ridge of Craco still free from landslides.
In spite of the collapses triggered by the landslides, the old town rises majestically with its Norman Tower, offering itself to the view of the surrounding valleys and continues to emanate a particular charm that attracts the visitor like its old inhabitants. Located on a cliff is the castle, built in the 13th century, which still preserves the original entrance portal and the tower with splendid windows. Of great historical interest besides the medieval center is the Convent of S. Pietro of the “Minori Osservanti” built in 1600.
In a general framework of local development, the Municipal Administration, which took office in April 1995, placed at the center of its commitment to local development, a project to restore the Historic Center, called “Scenic Park”.
The recovery intervention provides for a re-use for recreational and cultural purposes excluding a residential use of the historic center. Together with this intervention director, interventions are planned for the realization of a scientific and research laboratory on landslides and building recovery in landslide areas.