Ruderi di Galeria Antica: An Abandoned Town in Rome

If you want to discover somewhere new and spooky in Rome, then this article is just for you. You are about to get to know one of the coolest places in Rome. Ruderi di Galeria Antica: an abandoned ancient Etruscan city in the woods of suburban Rome.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Ruderi di Galeria Antica
  • Brief history of the town
  • About the town
  • Exploring the town
  • Warnings regarding your visit
  • Where is Ruderi di Galeria Antica?

Ruderi Di Galeria Antica

Be ready to meet Ruderi di Galeria Antica: ruins of an ancient town built by the Etruscans hidden inside a forest near River Arrone in Rome Metropolitan Area! Being deserted for decades, the ruins of this ancient town have been reclaimed by nature.

Surprisingly no one knows that there is a huge ancient Etruscan town inside a forest which is located only 40 minutes away from Rome by car. So this intriguing place drew my attention quite a lot and I decided to go all the way there and check it out myself. I had an experience beyond my expectations. This marvelous place blew my mind.

Brief History Of The Town

Ruderi di Galeria Antica was founded in 5-4th century BC, by the Etruscans. The town reached its peak in Roman times. During the Germanic invasions of the 3rd century AD it was abandoned and repopulated in the Middle Ages. In the 9th century it was invaded and destroyed by Saracens. However in the 13th century the town was rebuilt by the famous Orsini family. In short, Ruderi di Galeria Antica was a settlement with a history full of upheaval and catastrophes.

During the mid-eighteenth century its inhabitants began to die mysteriously. Today it is assumed that the cause of these deaths was malaria, but at the time the unexplained deaths suddenly hit the city and the chaos resulted in uncontrollable disorder. 

What is striking is that the abandonment of the city did not occur gradually but took the form of a precipitous and chaotic escape at the beginning of 1800s. In the following years this town earned the label of “Pompeii di Roma” . By 1809 Galeria had been completely deserted. Just imagine how the town must have had looked after the abandonment. Pretty spooky isn’t it?

The city is inside the woods and has many demolished ancient structures like this.

About The Town

Ruderi di Galeria Antica is located on a cliff inside a forest 35-40 min away by walk from the small town named Osteria Nuova. THERE IS NO SECURITY SO ENTRANCE IS COMPLETELY FREE! THE TOWN IS HIDDEN INSIDE WOODS AND THE AREA IS UTTERLY ISOLATED FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

For me the most surprising thing was to see that many of the structures are still intact despite the fact that most of them were built more than 1000 years ago and witnessed countless wars. Two of the most important structures being the main entrance of the town and clock tower, most of the town is actually still well-preserved.

The town was actually bigger than I anticipated. Since the nature has reclaimed the area, many of the ruins and entrances of the underground caves are covered either by thick vegetation or bushes. I would say without a doubt this place is one of the most mysterious and mind blowing ancient sites I have ever been to.

This advanced Etruscan town had a complex network of aqueducts, through which water was once distributed.
A narrow street between two buildings what was surely once a bustling road.

Exploring The Town

The Main Gate and Intact Buildings

Right after you start noticing the city walls on your left upon passing the abandoned farm, you will be seeing a cobblestone path going upwards. Follow it to reach the glorious main gate of the city. The road and a surviving arch is covered with ivy and vegetation offer a picturesque scene.

The old cobblestone way leads you to the remains of this beautiful town.
The main entrance of the ancient town.

The building erected on the right side of the main entrance has a pretty weird and frankly spooky setting. There are random clothes scattered on the ground and burnt candles on the walls. Apart from that there are some gratifies on the walls but they are not very legible. Seems like it is regularly used by a group of people. Quite odd.

This is the view you see after passing the main gate of the town.
The dilapidated multi stored structure is huge and it abuts the cliff. Blew my mind and gave me the creeps at the same time.
Frankly it was a bit creepy to see these burnt candles on the walls. Since I was exploring the area alone, seeing these made me feel a bit paranoid.

After entering the town through the main gate. If you keep to the right, you might see many small stone houses. Probably this place was the residential area of the town. This part mostly has deep holes covered by vegetation so the ground is not very strong.  Especially right behind the clock tower has a very weak foundation. Take your steps carefully.

The Clock Tower

It is not very possible for one to not spot the clock tower but just in case I am telling you to check it out. It is the most specific sight of the town. When you are roaming around the town, it really starts feeling spooky after sometime. Combination of utter silence, dilapidated ruins and hustling leaves blend in such a mysterious atmosphere.

Clock Tower, the most well-preserved structure of the town.
Arcs and many walls are still intact.

Dark Caves

On the borders of the town there are these man made caves carved inside the cliff. If you look carefully you can discern the crosses at the entrance. I took a glance inside and there were weird grafities on the wall. Unfortunately I didn’t have the guts to go all the way in.

Here is one of the entrances to the advanced cave network that goes deep in the ground

It is said that some weird things happened here in 1990’s. Lack of sources make these words only a bunch of urban legends however a photo taken during the police investigation that took place here arouses many questions in people’s heads. Here is that photo.

As I saw the caves are connected to each other through narrow tunnels that I could not dare going in. If you do not go alone then it would be safer to see around of course. Covering all spots of the town takes around 1.5-2 hours depending on your speed. I recommend you to come in the morning for the sun illuminates the area properly and it becomes more fun to see around.

Warnings Regarding Your Visit

  • Beware of the vegetation that covers the deep holes in the ground. There are many deep holes covered by fallen leaves, bushes etc. Therefore, moment you step on them, it wouldn’t be good I guess. 
  • There fauna of the area accommodates many different types of animals including wild pigs. I myself saw a batch pigs from far away and for sure you would not want to have any sort of encounter with them. I do not mean to scare you, of course the area does not abound with them but just be careful.
  • Get hiking shoes! The slope towards the town is cobblestone so it is pretty easy for you to twist an ankle. Apart from that the town is also not suitable to be covered with any casual shoes.
  • On the borders of the town you might see bunch of man made caves carved inside the cliff. These caves go pretty deep inside the cliff and they might be inhabited by pigs or mountain cats and I do not recommend you to go all the way inside if you wander alone like I did.
  • The town is not guarded by any security or not patrolled by anyone so you go at your own risk. Just enjoy this marvelous place, however also be cautious at the same time.
  • Of course get water and some snacks before you come. It is not a very hiker friendly landscape you might get tired. As a result, you should boost your energy to not to get tired early.

Where Is Ruderi di Galeria Antica?

Once you reach the small Italian town of Osteria Nuova, walk down towards Santa Maria di Galeria. Upon passing it, take the first right you will be seeing after a couple of hundred meters. Then walk through the road that takes you to the abandoned farm. When you see the gate, take the dirt road on the right side of the road. As you follow the path, you will be seeing the ancient walls of the city on your left.

In case you cant find the way, here is the way to go to Ruderi di Galeria Antica from downtown Rome on Google Maps!

Ancient city walls start appearing after you diverge from the main road.
Thick vegetation covering the ruins.
Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences both in Turkey and different parts of the world!