Rocchetta a Volturno – Rocchetta Alta, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Rocchetta a Volturno

Rocchetta Alta, Italy

This medieval settlement was abandoned after a series of landslides. What remained was largely destroyed during a mock battle for a WWII film reel. 

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The ruins of Rocchetta Alta dominate the remote valley of the Volturno River in the Appennine region of Molise, in central Italy. The original medieval settlement gathered around the impressively positioned Battiloro Castle, which was built to protect the nearby Benedictine Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno and initially owned by the Pandone family. Its misfortunes began as a result of intensive deforestation, which caused a number of landslides from the 1800s onwards. The landslides forced the inhabitants to migrate to a safer site just below the old medieval town, where they then founded the town of Rocchetta Nuova.

In the 1940s, a rather absurd fate befell what was left of the old town: the nearby Mainarde and Meta mountains were the stage for a long military campaign. The Allies were trying to break through the German Gustav Line, since the latter controlled the nearby town of Castelnuovo al Volturno. The Italian Liberation Corps successfully conquered Monte Marrone, but in order to produce visuals for an American propaganda film, a mock battle was staged in Rocchetta Alta. The mock battle led to the bombing of what was left of the old medieval town. Nowadays visitors can freely explore the ruins of the old houses, the castle and the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Rocchetta Alta.

Know Before You Go

Rocchetta a Volturno hosts a very modern and interesting museum on World War II known as the Museo Internazionale delle Guerre Mondiale (International Museum of World Wars)


The old village is about two kilometres away from the modern settlement of Rocchetta.