|Located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera, Craco is about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. This town is typical of those in the area, built up with long undulating hills all around that allow for the farming of wheat and other crops. The town can be dated back to 1060 when the land was in the ownership of Archbishop Arnaldo, Bishop of Tricarico. |
The population of Craco stood at well over 2,000 people in 1891. There had been many problems, with poor agricultural conditions creating desperate times. From 1892 to 1922 over 1,300 people moved from the town to North America. Broke farming was added to by earthquakes, landslides, and War - all of which contributed to this mass migration. During 1959 - 1972 Craco was plagued by these landslides and quakes. The remaining 1,800 inhabitants were transferred to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera in 1963, and the original Craco remains in a state of crumbling decay to this day.
The town was built on a very steep summit, for defensive reasons, giving it a stark and striking appearance and distinguishing it from the surrounding lands which are characterized by soft shapes. Built on the highest side of the town, the center faces a ridge runs steeply to the southwest where newer buildings exist. Craco sits atop a 400 meter high cliff that overlooks the Cavone River valley.
As the old town collapsed, the statuary and interior fixtures were moved to the new church building which in now at the center of the new town, Craco Pershiera. Though modern in appearance on the outside, the old statues inside from the original church provide a transition to visitors that give them the atmosphere of old Craco.
The traditions of old Craco also continue with a local market held in Craco Perschiera each month.