Jun 06, 2020 I Paul Seaburn

Lost Italian Village is Going to Rise from the Watery Depths Again

Everyone knows (or will eventually find out) that nothing disappears on the Internet. That’s apparently also the case in Central Italy at the foothills of the Italian Alps where a medieval ghost village pops out of a lake every few decades to allow locals a trip down 13th century memory lanes.

“So soon, from the bottom of the artificial reservoir, the stone village and the church of San Teodoro with its square bell tower could emerge again. And with them a story that has its roots over the centuries. And that became important with the conquest of the village by the Este family and with the construction of the via Vandelli, which connected Modena to Massa.”

“Artificial reservoir” gives you a hint as to why the village of Fabbriche di Careggine lies at the bottom of Lago di Vagli (Vagli Lake) but that is but a waterlogged blip in the rich history that it had before becoming the Atlantis of Italy. The village was founded in the thirteenth century by a colony of blacksmiths from Brescia, an ancient Italian city dating back over 3,200 years with a rich history in manufacturing, metalworking, textile making and other industries. The blacksmiths most likely made the 250 km (155 miles) move for better weather, easier access to the coast or an abundance of iron ore. The mills and factories they built in this new village near the town of Careggine gave it its name: Fabbriche di Careggine – the factories of Careggine.

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Iron ore mining today

Under the powerful Este ruling family, Fabbriche di Careggine became the largest iron supplier in the area – helped by the construction of the Via Vandelli, a major military and industrial road. The road eventually lost its prominence under new political leaders and so did Fabbriche di Careggine. However, Vagli became a source for marble in the early 1900s and a small hydroelectric power station was built on the Edron river to serve it. Everything was fine again … until the Fascists arrived.

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Italian marble quarry

The government electric company decided to dam the Edron, resulting in the creation of Lago di Vagli and the sinking of Fabbriche di Careggine. However, they built nearby Vagli Sotto in a reproduction of the urban layout of the medieval village and moved the 146 inhabitants, who said their final goodbye to their homes, the church of San Teodoro and its square bell tower in 1953.

What was that you said about the Internet and submerged Italian villages?

While living in their replica town and homes, the former residents had a chance to see Fabbriche di Careggine whenever the lake was drained to perform maintenance on the dam. That was four times -- in 1958, 1974, 1983, and 1994. (Photos and slide show of previous appearances here.) And now, over 25 years after its last appearance:

“… among the proposals considered within the initiative there are the opening of sites used for digital indoor museums , the creation of museum institutions in the area and local history, the redevelopment of the natural environment, including the cleaning of the Vagli reservoir through a series of activities that, through the possible emptying of the basin, provide for the implementation of maintenance activities on hydraulic works, environmental interventions with naturalistic engineering works and tourism enhancement projects.”

The current power company is considering draining the lake in 2021 for maintenance, but with the additional noble causes of promoting environmentalism and the tourism boost the reappearance of Fabbriche di Careggine will generate, assuming they go through with the draining.

Just think how much tourism business Atlantis would generate. Keep looking!

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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