architecture

Italian village underwater since 1994 could resurface

Updated 5th June 2020
Italy, the village of Fabbriche di Careggine, at the foothills of the Apuan Alps (Tuscany), lays completely submerged by water as a dam was built next to it. But every decade, for maintenance reasons, the basin, now called Lake Vagli, must be drained and the village reappears like a ghost. (Photo by Romano Cagnoni/Getty Images)
Credit: Romano Cagnoni/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Italian village underwater since 1994 could resurface
Written by Amy WoodyattValentina Di Donato, CNN
A 12th century Italian village submerged underwater for more than 25 years could soon see the light of day again.
The village of Fabbriche di Careggine, in Lucca province, Tuscany, was flooded in 1946 to build a hydroelectric dam and Lake Vagli, according to the local tourism board. It has not been seen since 1994, when the dam was last emptied.
Enel's dam on Lake Vagli. Built to provide hydroelectric power, it submerged a village.
Enel's dam on Lake Vagli. Built to provide hydroelectric power, it submerged a village. Credit: StellaPhotography/Alamy
The town's residents were moved to a new lakeside town, Vagli di Sotto. Submerged under 34 million cubic meters of water, the still intact structures of the abandoned village -- including stone houses, a bridge, a cemetery and the San Teodoro church -- reemerge only when the dam is emptied for maintenance.
According to local tourism officials, this has happened only four times since the 12th century ghost town was flooded: In 1958, 1974, 1983 and 1994.
The ancient village Fabbriche di Careggine resurfaces every ten years for dam maintenance.
The ancient village Fabbriche di Careggine resurfaces every ten years for dam maintenance. Credit: Dino Fracchia/Alamy
Local politicians have long been trying to drain the lake and bring the ruined village back into view again, according to local media reports.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported in 2015 that Mario Puglia, a former mayor of neighboring Vagli di Sotto, called for the lake to be drained again, citing tourism and local employment as a concern.
The ruins of the abandoned village sometimes see the light of day when the lake is drained.
The ruins of the abandoned village sometimes see the light of day when the lake is drained. Credit: Riccardo Sala/Alamy
But now there are signs that the lake could be emptied once more -- 27 years after it was last drained to reveal the village.
In a Facebook post, Lorenza Giorgi, daughter of former mayor of the local municipality Ilio Domenico Giorgi, indicated that the lake, which currently acts as a water reservoir in case of fire, could be drained next year.
"Reliable sources say that next year, in 2021, the lake of Vagli will be emptied," she wrote.
"The last time it was emptied was in 1994 when my father was mayor and thanks to his efforts and to the numerous initiatives that with great efforts, was able to set up the entire town of Vagli and was able to welcome more than 1 million people," she wrote.
Energy company Enel, which manages the artificial lake, told CNN in a statement that a working group is being formalized with the Municipality of Vagli di Sotto and Romei Srl to discuss tourism in the area. Redeveloping the natural environment is one of the initiatives up for discussion, the company said, including cleaning the Vagli reservoir and possibly emptying the basin.