Seeing them standing alone by the roadsides of Italy, I first thought they were old railway stations.
Instead, as I found out, they are “Casa Cantonieras” – or at least had been when they were operating.
By the older roads on Italy one can spot these humble but sturdy stone buildings that have defied the elements and time itself. Some of them are still functioning as homes, some have been turned into bed & breakfasts and some, maybe most of them, are empty and abandoned.
Originally, Casa Cantoniera was not just a home. The chain of Casas were kind of road maintenance depots where caretakers of the state roads lived. The house had storage rooms for the maintenance equipment, garage and the living space of the caretaker and his family.
This Casa Cantoniera at the southern part of Italy had been empty for some time. Almost all the furniture and fixtures were gone apart from lonely jacket hanging on a nail at the wall.
Sun shone through the building, and now & then one could hear a car humming on the road.
This kind of maintenance system continued to operate in Italy until 1980s. Then came the new highways, and local roads fell silent. Moreover, upkeep of the roads was centralized, and soon dozens of Casas were standing empty. Some were later restored, but many are still abandoned.
Rickety concrete stairs took me upstairs. The second story was as empty as the ground floor.
There were some cables & cords hanging at the front door, but this Casa Cantoniera was cut off from the rest of the world, cherishing in its shadows the last shreds of its better days.