Medieval “Ghost Village” That’s Been Underwater Since 1947 Could Reappear

By Doug Williams
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In 1946, in the Lucca Province of Tuscany, Italy a new dam was constructed and a new artificial lake, Lake Vagli, was created.  At the bottom of the lake is a 12th century medieval town, Fabbriche di Careggine and the small villages of Pantano and Piari that were flooded when the lake was filled and only sees the light of day when the lake is drained for maintenance.

 

The lake was drained in 1958, 1974, 1983 and the last time was in 1994.  According to The Times, the daughter of the former mayor of the local municipality, Lorenza Giorgi, posted on social media that the lake of 1.2 billion cubic feet of water would most likely be drained again in 2021 saying, “I hope that next year….with the help of social networks, we will be able to repeat and overcome the great success, with just as much attention.”

When the Lake Vagli was last drained it attracted around one million visitors hoping to walk the streets of Fabbriche di Careggine again after over twenty five years.

 

How social distancing and other public health rules will affect this is presently unknown but the Italian energy company Enel that built the dam is hoping the reemergence of the town will draw visitors again.

Credit: Atlantide Travel the lost village of Lake Vagli
Credit: Atlantide Travel the lost village of Lake Vagli

According to news.sky.com a representative from Enel remarked, “A memorandum of understanding addressing this project among other local enhancement initiatives is currently being formalized between our group and the municipality of Vagli di Sotto to support the Progetto Essere 2020.

A work group will be started to determine the feasibility of the project.”  One of the main points is how long they can keep the lake drained to attract tourists.

The town was built in 1270 and consists of stone houses, a Romanesque church and graveyard and a bridge which now goes nowhere.

According to vaglipark.it, the town under Lake Vagli was mostly populated with blacksmiths and their families because of the rich deposits in Mount Tambura on the boundary between the province of Lucca and the province of Massa-Carrara.

Lake Vagli was last drained 25 years ago.
Lake Vagli was last drained 25 years ago.

The residents of the town were relocated to nearby to Vagli di Sotto which was designed to look like the medieval town.  An old local tale says “when the lake is drained and the town re-emerges, its old dwellers come back to their houses.”

Work on the dam started in 1941 for hydroelectric purposes.  Construction was delayed because of the outbreak of World War II but was completed in 1947 at just over three hundred feet tall.

Today Vagli Park offers multiple activities with camping, a zip line, and Adventure Park with a children’s Gufetta Course for the improvement of the sense of balance on planks, ropes and tree trunks and for adults, The Course for the Fearless which includes climbing a rocky canyon and walking across the over five hundred foot suspension bridge with rope courses and a final zipline almost five hundred feet long.

Built to provide hydroelectric power, it submerged a village called Fabbriche di Careggine.
Built to provide hydroelectric power, it submerged a village called Fabbriche di Careggine.

In the middle is the Blue Course for adults and teenagers which features rope courses and a climbing wall.

The Honor and Dishonor park, designed by the town mayor Mario Puglia is also available for tourists.  Marble statues line the walkways in no discernable order.

Some of the ways of honor include statues of  Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump but no one knows if they will stay there.  Also, among the honored are Diesel, the police dog killed by terrorists in France and Alexander Prokhorenko, a young Russian soldier who gave the order to bomb his location when he was surrounded by Isis.

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Among the dishonored is Francesco Schettino, the Italian sea captain who commanded the cruise ship Costa Concordia in 2012 when it struck an underwater rock and capsized with the deaths of thirty two passengers and crew off the Italian island of Giglio.  Schettino had left the ship with about three hundred passengers still on board violating the rule that captains should be the last to leave the ship.

 
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