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Fabbriche di Careggine

Fabbriche di Careggine, the real Atlantis in Tuscany

(by Eduardo Lubrano). Yes, Atlantis exists. The mythical city under the sea, however, is not in the middle of some ocean but in the heart of Garfagnana, in Tuscany: it is an ancient medieval village that every ten years re-emerges from the depths of a lake. There is no other similar story in the world: that of Fabbriche di Careggine.

A village set in the heart of the Apuan Alps, a few kilometers from Lucca, now submerged by the waters of the artificial lake of Vagli, formed following the construction of a hydroelectric dam. But at the time of its foundation in the 13th century, it was based on iron extraction from the nearby Mount Tambura, so much so that the village was founded by a colony of blacksmiths from Brescia. Passing under the Este family, at the end of the 18th century it became one of the government’s major iron suppliers.

The Duke of Modena Francesco III d’Este granted numerous privileges to the people who lived there, including exemption from military service and concessions on the transport of materials, to encourage their work, aware of how economically valuable the small centre was. Having entered a crisis at the end of the following century, the village recovered thanks to the marble market, which was present in its vicinity. Then, in 1947, the construction of the dam. The Selt-Valdarno company built a dam to dam the Edron stream. The aim was to create an artificial lake to supply the Torrite hydroelectric power station. The village, which at the time had146 inhabitants and 31 houses, was evacuated.

The water coming from the Edron river submerged the village, transforming Fabbriche di Careggine into a real Atlantis. From 1947 to 1953, the village was submerged by the waters of the artificial lake. In 1958, the first emptying of the lake was carried out. This procedure was necessary for the maintenance of the dam. The village magically re-emerged, as in a fairy tale.

Then, once again, the ancient settlement was submerged and disappeared into the depths of the lake. This has happened three more times since then: in 1974, 1983, and 1994. On the occasion of the last emptying, a million tourists flocked to admire the little Tuscan Atlantis, before the waters of the Edron made it disappear again. But that was the last time. And it will be until 2023 when the lake will finally be emptied, perhaps definitively, and the village will appear in all its beauty.

PH: Robyfra1 at Italian Wikipedia