Conza Della Campania was a town in the province of Avellino in the Campania region of Italy. It suffered extensive damage during an earthquake in 1980 and was evacuated after. The ruins of the town remain abandoned to this day.
The area where Conza Della Campania is located was originally called Compsa and was occupied by the Oliveto-Cairano culture who left evidence of their habitation in caves in the locality. In 216 BC, it was taken by the Carthaginian general Hannibal before eventually coming under Roman rule. It passed through a number of different owners and leaderships from that time, becoming an important town in the Irprinia region. A number of damaging earthquakes over time meant it lost its importance in favour of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi and Teora.
From 1811 to 1860 it was part of the district of Teora within the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The kingdom was the largest sovereign state by population and size in Italy prior to Italian unification and comprised the island of Sicily and all of Peninsula Italy south of the Papal States. In 1861, King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy. The monarchy was abolished in 1946 following the end of World War II and Italy became a republic.
Conza Della Campania was located in the valley of the Ofanto river, halfway between Lioni and Calitri. The Conza Dam was built in the 1970s created Lake Conza, an artificial reservoir. Today, Lake Conza is deemed a Special Protection Area by the WWF. It is important location for birds along the migratory route between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Sea and over 100 species have been registered in the area.
The town of Conza Della Campania was completely destroyed in the 1980 Irpinian earthquake which struck the region on 23 November of that year. The quake measured 6.89 on the Richter Scale and centred on the town of Conza. It killed 2,914 people and injured over 10,000. 300,000 people were left homeless as a result of the disaster. Other towns in the region were destroyed including Lioni and Teora and the city of Naples was also the scene of major damage.
The funds used for the reconstruction of the region were at the centre of a major scandal and it emerged that only a quarter of the total amount actually went into helping the victims. The investigation that followed brought an end to the careers of many high-profile politicians and civil servants.
Conza Della Campania was rebuilt in an area called Piano delle Briglie 5 miles (8 km) away. The architect Valter Bordini along with Fiamma Dinelli drew up the detailed plan of the new settlement with engineers ensuring it would resist earthquakes. They designed a new central square and shopping centre in 1993. The new town features a new Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. There are a number of sculptures and artworks throughout the new town honouring those who died in the earthquake.
Following the disaster, a number of prefabricated units were brought in to house some of those who had been evacuated. As the residents moved to their new homes, they left the prefabricated village behind. Some of them remain as they were and can be visited to this day.
Most of the buildings in the original settlement of Conza Della Campania were destroyed but some remain. In the years following the earthquake, as rubble has been removed and some of the ruins of the ancient Roman settlement of Compsa were discovered underneath. An archaeological area has been created and the Roman forum amphitheater and ancient Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta have all been uncovered. It is hoped that the town devastated by so many earthquakes can become an important tourist site.