In the province of the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera, there is a ghost town that seems to be suspended in time and that enchants filmmakers. Craco, included in the watch list of the World Monuments Fund in 2010, is about 45 km from the province capital and stands on a hill of soft, light rock, surrounded by the arid and characteristic sides of the gullies.
The first settlements date back to the 8th century and it was named Graculum (‘small plowed field’ Latin) in 1060 AD. In 1276, it became also the seat of a university and its population reached 2,590 in 1561. The modern history of the town was marked in 1963 by a series of landslides that forced many inhabitants to evacuate it moving further downstream, in the current Craco Peschiera and the few that had remained abandoned it in 1980 following an earthquake.
Both the structure of the territory and its scenic beauty have made Craco an open-air set that fascinated many directors even before its evacuation began. Although the most famous scene filmed there is the one of Judas’ suicide in ‘The Passion of The Christ’ directed by Mel Gibson in 2004, it was first chosen by Alberto Latuada in 1953 for his ‘La lupa’. In 1979, it was the set ‘Christ stopped at Eboli’ by Francesco Rosi, followed by ‘King David’ by Bruce Beresford in 1985, Saving Grace by Robert M. Young in 1986, ‘The Sun Also Shines at Night’ by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani in 1990, ‘The Nymph’ by Lina Wertmüller in 1996, ‘Terra bruciata’ by Fabio Segatori in 1999, ‘The Nativity Story’ by Catherine Hardwicke in 2006, ‘Quantum of Solace’ by Marc Forster in 2008, and ‘Basilicata Coast to Coast’ by Rocco Papaleo in 2010.
In recent years, paths have been created through the town to allow tourist to safely walk the historical town.
Ilona Catani Scarlett