Situated in Liguria, 70 kilometres (43 mi) southwest of Genoa, Balestrino is one of Italy's most mysterious ghost towns, with little information known about the town's history and origins as well as its demise.
Balestrino dates back to at least the 11th century. During the middle ages, the Bava family, nobles from Piedmont, were the feudal lords of the town and the one's who built Balestrino's oldest castle. Later, in the 16th century, the Del Carretto family came into power and built their castle. The castle was burned down and the lord was killed in 1561, leading the family to establish a court and torture chambers to maintain control and stop rioting.
Although the town managed to flourish, battles between his armies and locals during the occupation of Napoleon severely affected the area and its population. Balestrino came under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont and in 1860 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
It is believed that earthquakes and hydrogeological instability was the main reason for the town's demise. A number of earthquakes in the 19th century caused a part of the population to flee, with the last inhabitants evacuating Balestrino in 1953.
The abandoned area is 1.5 hectares wide and is made up of fascinating buildings such as the churches of St. George and St. Andrew, built in twelfth century. The town's best-preserved building is the Byzantine castle of Del Carretto, while the bridge of Deautra, covered in wild plants, is another beautiful corner of the abandoned town.
Today, the ghost town of Balestrino, situated close to the newer Balestrino town is visited by thousands of visitors and explorers every year. It has also caught Hollywood's attention, chosen as a location for the movie Inkheart.
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