Earthquakes and ghost towns in Sicily: from the Valle del Belìce in 1968 to the Val di Noto in 1693. The first stage of the virtual seismic itinerary through Italy

Raffaele Azzaro, Massimiliano Cascone, Alfio Amantia


Destructive earthquakes leave traces not only on the physical landscape but also on human processes. Among the most devastating consequences there is the abandoning of towns and villages,  in favour of locations deemed safer. Abandoning a village and resettling in a new location, whether it is a gradual process or the result of a sudden traumatic situation, is an event of great historical, cultural and anthropological impact. It entails the loss of a piece of history or culture – local identity – and the more suddenly it happens, the more dramatic the after-effects. Italy has almost two hundred localities that have been abandoned for different causes (landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, but also social or environmental reasons), some ninety of them owing to earthquakes. Sicily, a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, has several traces of former villages either in the form of fairly substantial ruins or even half-destroyed, which are usually located a few kilometres away from the new settlements. In this paper, we present the methodological approach developed in the framework of the EDURISK Project to enhance the awareness of seismic risk as an element of daily life; the case-study of the Valle del Belìce after the 1968 earthquakes well represents the richness and complexity of this approach. Following this rationale, in 2006,  we published the first multimedia product devoted to Sicily based on the tools available at that time: a DVD-Rom hosting the interactive Quick Time™ Virtual Reality format. Today, multimedia technology is much more advanced and web-oriented, but the methodological approach is still valid.


Sicily, ghost towns, earthquakes

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X