Villaggio dei Salassi – La Magdeleine, Italy - Atlas Obscura

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Villaggio dei Salassi

La Magdeleine, Italy

These ruins on Mont Tantané dates back to the Iron Age, but there is limited evidence for why a village was built so far from water or other resources. 


This site is what remains of the legacy from the Iron Age. Some 2,000 years ago, a local population known as the Salassi settled this plateau under Mount Tantané in the Italian Alps. Today the site is home to an abandoned archaeological excavation with a magical atmosphere.

The ruins, now known as Villaggio dei Salassi, were first recorded in 1973 by Vincent Trèves. They are quite far from mountain passes and waterways. The difficulty in accessing water, as well as the harsh climate, would lead us to believe that it was not a place to settle or grow crops. The location is also below the mountain peak and it was built using mainly rock and stones found in the surroundings. Some believe that it was built to extract mining materials, but no traces of mineral deposits have been found nearby.

When archeologists visited the ruins, they found evidence that the village was likely inhabited around 143 and 25 B.C., a period that included some of the bloodiest moments of conflict between the Salassi and the Romans. This could mean that the site was built to hide the most vulnerable members of the population during Roman attacks. This would explain the roughness and hurry of the constructions, lack of resources, and the remote location of the village.

Know Before You Go

To reach this place, you will need to hike a couple of hours through the wood passing Col Pilaz, Charrey's Lake and follow path number 2 until the junction at these coordinates: 45.82056819863809, 7.63965356161507. From there you will follow the path until a junction to the left: the path is not too well marker, so it's important to keep your eyes open, the trail to follow will be at your left: 45.815729561057815, 7.637225431423144. After about 10-15 minutes you will reach the ruins of the ancient village.

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