The Italian village that can’t be named
Colobraro, an ancient hilltop town in Italy’s southern region of Basilicata, is reputed to be the nation’s unluckiest village.
Was it a hex?
According to legend, this folklore dates back to the 1940s, when Biagio Virgilio, then mayor of Colobraro, proclaimed at a meeting in the nearby city of Matera: “May this chandelier fall down if I’m not telling the truth!”
With those words, the chandelier plummeted from the ceiling, and Virgilio’s village quickly became synonymous with bad omens, BBC wrote.
Today, Colobraro is still largely considered a place whose name is better not mentioned. Residents of neighboring villages call it ‘Cudd Pais’ (‘that village’ in the local dialect), and are quick to touch wood when they hear the name as a good-luck charm to drive away any misfortune.
Matteo, a Colobraro resident, said, “Don Biagio Virgilio? Of course, I do remember him! The misfortune? Folks made it up. He didn’t bring bad luck. When something happens to some outsider with their cars, maybe they get stranded or a flat tire or the engine breaks down, they blame it on the village.”
Where superstition reigns
Located between Calabria and Puglia, Italy’s southern Basilicata region is dominated by untamed wilderness and a lunar landscape, where ghost towns like Craco are not uncommon and there are still strong links to tradition and superstition.
A land of sorceresses
In addition to the chandelier myth, generations of Colobraro residents have long passed down tales of witches and wizards, as well the masciare, powerful women famous throughout southern Italy in the 1950s who were said to maintain control of their village through magical arts, casting curses and brewing potent spells. Due to these stories, the village has become notorious across Italy for having a hex on it and bringing bad luck to everyone around.
Fun and games
To capitalize on these superstitions and legends, in 2011 Colobraro residents organized an annual street show ‘Dream of a night… in that village’.
Every August, visitors come from across the region to watch a play starring witches, masciare and other creepy characters that takes place along the streets and squares. On arrival, guests are given an amulet against the village’s misfortune: The abitino (or cingiok in Colobraro) contains three grains of salt against incantation, three grains of wheat as a symbol of fertility, three needles of rosemary to favor love and beauty and fight evil spirits, and lavender flowers as a symbol of virtue and serenity.