Iraq Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

Italian Medieval Village Fabbriche di Careggine emerges from under Lake Vagli.         Source: Public domain

Sunken Italian Medieval Village May Rise Once Again

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

An Italian medieval village, that has been underwater since the 1940s, may soon reappear from the depths of Lake Vagli. It is reported that there are now plans to drain the man-made lake which would allow visitors to witness the 13th century settlement in remarkably well-preserved condition.

The submerged medieval village Fabbriche di Careggine is located near Vagli di Sotto in Tuscany, one of the most beautiful and historic parts of Italy, and an area popular with tourists from all over the world. Usually the medieval ghost village is almost completely submerged under the man-made Lake Vagli, with only the tops of some of its ruins visible from above. 

The Fascist regime of Mussolini first ordered the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the region, but the project was disrupted during World War II. Work was restarted by the post-war democratic government in 1947 and was completed by 1953. Lake Vagli was created by damming a small river which consequently submerged the medieval village. The settlement’s population was relocated to a new specially built village.

View of Lake Vagli from Vagli di Sotto. (Mushy /Adobe Stock)

Draining Lake Vagli Would Give a Much Needed Boost to Italian Tourism

According to Lonely Planet, “The rumor that Lake Vagli was going to be emptied once again appeared first on Facebook.” The draining is being considered in order to conduct crucial maintenance. The sunken medieval village is managed by a local society and, according to Lonely Planet, in response to the claims on social media they stated, “that it is a very real possibility and that they're considering it as part of a plan to boost tourism in the region.” Tourism is considered key to helping Italy recover from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The Metro reports that if the plan goes ahead, Fabbriche di Careggine “which has been remarkably well preserved, will resurface from the depths”.

The 13 th century village was last free of water in the 1940s. (Viaggio Routard Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

An Italian Medieval Village Frozen in Time

The village dates from the 13th century and it was founded by ironworkers from other parts of Northern Italy. For many centuries the Italian village prospered and was important for the local economy. So much so that the local ruler granted inhabitants special privileges, such as exemption from military service. However, the local economy declined in the 19th century and many of the inhabitants took to farming until their village was submerged by the rising waters of Lake Vagli.

When Fabbriche di Careggine does emerge from the waters of the artificially-made lake, visitors will be able to get a real sense of medieval life. The standing buildings are made of stone and are mostly roofless. The village church dedicated to St. Theodore is the best-preserved building. Built in the Romanesque style, it has a dome and stands on what was once the village square. Its original bell tower has also been preserved. An arched stone bridge will also become visible once the waters recede.

Draining Lake Vagli to Expose Medieval Village in Tuscany

Lake Vagli has been drained four times since the 1950s. According to Time Out, the man-made lake was last drained in 1994. When the water level fell and exposed the sunken village, droves of tourists flocked to the village. Lorenzo Giorgi, whose father was the local mayor in 1994, wrote in a Facebook post that the area “welcomed more than a million people” when the waters of the lake were drained, reports The Metro. 

View over Lake Vagli in Tuscany. (robertonencini / Adobe Stock)

View over Lake Vagli in Tuscany. (robertonencini / Adobe Stock)

As yet there is no confirmed date for draining the lake, but enthusiasts look forward to the village rising to the surface in 2021, even if it’s just for a limited time. Once maintenance is complete, Fabbriche di Careggine will once again sink beneath the waters of Lake Vagli and it could be many years before the sunken underwater village can be visited again.

Top image: Italian Medieval Village Fabbriche di Careggine emerges from under Lake Vagli.         Source: Public domain

By Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

Next article