Shadows on the Screen

This is how you leave a place: you tell yourself you’ll come back. And maybe you will. But sometimes, far down the road, you wonder what on earth you’d be coming back for. The people you once knew have moved on with their lives; probably they’ve forgotten you, as if you’re now naught but a wraith or a shade. They won’t see you at the bus stop or the little place where you bought those vegetables that time.

Perhaps that little place is gone. Perhaps you were always a wraith.

Maybe this is what slows us down as we add years and passport stamps to the histories of our lives: this knowledge that our presence is only so potent and our intentions, only so strong; that other forces also lead us through life, sometimes more powerfully; that too often we’ve said, “See you again!” when we really should have been saying, “Goodbye.”

Yet, there is something compelling about these places we’ve abandoned. They draw our minds even when they can’t draw our whole selves. In a sense, we always return.

Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

The ghost town of Pentedattilo – the “Five Fingers”, in Greek – is revived annually for the Pentedattilo International Short Film Festival. I’d love to be on the pointy toe of Italy this Friday (August 23rd, 2013) to see it, but I won’t be, except in my mind. Perhaps one day I’ll take my whole self.

Intended For: as soon as the kids are old enough to appreciate a short film festival in an Italian ghost town – say when the youngest is thirteen or fourteen?

Overview: A week to see the Pentedattilo Film Festival and come home again. If I were dreaming more wildly, this would be part of a longer trip through Italy, but I guess my dreams are just smaller tonight.

Strengths: The itinerary provides adequate contingency time between legs of travelling. The destination is beautiful and mysterious, and indulges my love of short films, and the journey by rail and road should be scenic.

Forseeable difficulties and mitigating strategies:
The journey-to-destination ratio is extraordinarily high, which may be a problem for other family members. On the upside, the kids will both be reading age by then, and able to tote their own libraries. The long transition time even seems to suit the occasion, providing ample opportunity for reflection.

Estimated Price Bracket: Expensive, for the flights alone.


Day One

  • Fly Singapore-> Rome (2 stops/24hrs – 0 stops/13hrs). It should be possible to cobble together a series of flights into Pentedattilo’s nearest airport, which I believe is Reggio Calabria (or at least one of the closer international airports, such as Naples or Lamezia Terme), but the most affordable route I could find tonight finished in Rome, and took a while to get there. In reality, it would be better to book further ahead.

Day Two

  • Recollect in Rome
  • Overnight in central Rome

Day Three

  • According to Trenitalia, an intercity train leaves Roma Termini at 07:39, and arrives in the nearest town of Melito di Porto Salvo about eight hours later (a bit before 4pm), with changes at Villa S Giovanni and Reggio di Calabria Centrale. It also says the train is all booked out, but in my experience, inexplicable things can happen when you check at train stations in Italy.
  • Overnight Melito di Porto Salvo

Day Four

  • Hire car (for some reason ghost towns don’t have great public transport connections), drive to Pentedattilo for sightseeing and film festival (9km, but steep and windy towards end, so leave ample time) and back again (finishes after midnight)
  • Overnight Melito di Porto Salvo

Day Five

  • Return car, check out, begin long trek home

More compelling, abandoned places across the world courtesy of iamsupercarla at The Salt Of Your Skin.

Shout out to Around The World With Kids for her thoughts on travelling more slowly with age and to A Bune in Bangalore, who just left and will hopefully return.

Update (a couple more): Jaquelinemhandel of Tokidoki shows us beautiful decay in Beirut, and cbrzustoski of Bohemian on a Budget  takes us to the Ghost Village of Kayaköy, in Turkey.

And another Italian ghost town at the heart of Italy, from Living Europe.