Craco Italy – The finest abandoned town in the world?

Apr 16, 2014 | Location | 9 comments

Click settings, select 1080p HD then go full screen and kick back for three and a half minutes.

Craco Italy is one of the most fabulous abandoned places in the world and is often used as a shoot location for feature films and fashion photography. I decided to check it out with my photographer friend Aneil Sharma. We stayed in the nearby ancient town of Matera and did a day trip with a couple of Italian models to Craco. Here are some location stills from our visit and a few portraits shot in probably the best shoot location in Europe.


Nothing quite prepares you for the beautiful sights, scents and sounds of Italy. Brushing through wild herbs on the path up to Craco, passing a donkey quite content in the mid day sun. The crows have made a home in the tower that adorns the ruined town.

After some delicate negotiation we were free to shoot until sundown. We met up with our guide and adorned with hard hats we all journeyed up into the highest and most complete part of the town. We carried food, drinks and our camera kit. The Fujifilm X-T1 with prime lenses is certainly the perfect kit for this kind of shoot.


This palace complete with frescoes was our shoot location for an hour or so. Time drifts by in the heat. A few flies are buzzing around a nearby window, a distant donkey is neighing and all is well in the world.


In the 1960s after various land slides and an earthquake the town of Craco was abandoned. The residents were rehoused in a new town a few kilometres away in the valley. Several of the buildings, palaces and churches remain intact complete with original features like shutters balustrades and frescoes. It is a photographers heaven.


Nature is reclaiming this place at quite a rate. The isolation keeps tourists away. There is a system here but it’s sketchy at best. Our interpreters worked hard to get us the required permissions to shoot. It all looks easy but nothing is quite that in Italy. Procedures have to be observed.


The view from a cracked window is breathtaking. Everywhere I look there is reflected sunlight begging to be employed in picture making.


Streets that are more used to donkeys than cars. There is no buzz of scooters here. When I discussed our trip to Craco to our hotelier he looked at me strangely and just said why?



I take a moment to absorb the scene from the window. Way down below the palace that we are shooting in there is an old man tending to the olive trees. His car parked in the shade on the West facing escarpment.


After a couple of hours we made our way back to the car I set the Quadcopter up once more and shot another 15 minutes of footage including the fabulous end shot that starts with the crane down the facade of the clock tower and ends up on a distant view.

Here are a few portraits from our time in Craco. I’ll be back in Craco soon with a stylist, make up artist and a group of delegates to create magic. This was a mini holiday for me and a chance to become more familiar with the wonderful 56mm Fuji lens on my X-T1









The dress in the niche is by Lisa Keating




If you would like to join me on a photography trip to Craco please Email Blaise. Places will be limited but the magic will be amazing. Please feel free to comment on these pictures below.


  1. Alessandro Vetrugno

    It’s amazing how an abandoned place could be beautiful … Great Damien and wonderful model

    • Damien

      Thanks Alessandro :) I’ve an abandoned English church to blog soon too.



  2. jamie

    A superb kick back session, thank you so much for sharing, you marry Dereliction and beauty so seamlessly, I aspire!

    • Damien

      Hi Jamie, Thank you for the compliments. I’ll keep on with some dereliction shots then :)

      Cheers, Damien.

  3. Mike

    All the photos of the town and models are beautiful. The Video of the old town is amazing to view from the sky.
    You must have plan and worked hard to get all theses shots.

    • Damien

      Hi Mike, Thanks for your kind words. The planning took quite a while. I used Google Earth and Google translate for most of it. When preparation meets opportunity magic will happen ;)


  4. John Archer

    I love the portraits Damien!

    On a side note I enjoyed your webinar this afternoon too :) Thanks for the code.

    • Damien

      Thanks John,

      Enjoy your video download and remember to get out there and shoot :)




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