Tuscany. Lake Vagli and the underwater ghost town

On the northern edge of Tuscany, surrounded by green peaks of the Apuan Alps, existed side by side two villages. One day, as it did seventy years ago, after the construction of the dam aimed to supply the area with electricity, located lower Fabbriche di Careggine was covered by the water of artificial lake. Second one Vagli Sotto today may well be called one of the most beautifully situated village in whole Tuscany. However, flooded ghost town doesn’t remain forgotten. When, in 1994 for the last time water from artificial lake was drained for maintenance, old walls attracted more than a million people, to tell them its story. Once again, they do it soon.


Lago di Vagli © Matteo Viviani

When in 1941 the energy company Selt-Valdarno (today ENEL) was beginning to construct the dam which backwater Eldon river, a decision was taken that situated in the valley the medieval village of Fabbriche di Carreggine must be flooded by the artificial lake. Residents were given the promise. Every ten years the water from the lake had to be drained and displaced people will have the opportunity to return to the abandoned houses. In 1946 citizens moved, some of them to the near town of Vagli Sotto, and a year later the valley was filled with water. But today’s reality is far from the arrangement. So far Fabbriche di Careggine was available only in 1958, 1974, 1983 and 1994. The visitors could seen stone houses, romanesque church of San Teodoro with partially destroyed bell tower and stone arched bridge over the Eldon river.


Fabbriche di Carreggine in 1994 © gcbarga

antonio walter mozzoni

Fabbriche di Carreggine in 1994 © antonio walter mozzoni

In the first half of 2016 press said that emptying the lake will begin in the summer of that year. Unfortunately, the owner again failed to fulfill its obligations. Why? Truth we can only guess. In any case, the conflict on the line ENEL – the local authority is in full swing. The authority – at least in theory – are fighting for the feelings of the few remaining still alive, the ancient inhabitants of Fabbriche di Carreggine, although silently count for income from tourism. The owner also count the money, but those which consume such a large project. Imagine water, you will need to drain is about 34 million cubic meters! The tank and the dam, in addition to supply the area with electricity, also serves as a backup to the fact drought or fires.


© galleryelmarco

It’s not known when exactly the company start drain the water from the lake. It can be assumed that since it’s been more than two decades, it will happen in the next few years. Does it worth therefore visit this area? Yes of course! Trip to Lago di Vagli is a great idea for a day trip if traveling through Tuscany you going to stay for a few days in the vicinity of the town of Lucca – capital of the province of the same name. Heading north through SS12 you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Valley of Garfagnana. What about local attraction? Lake, although artificial, rich in flora and fauna, is located in an extremely scenic part, around was led the numerous paths for hikers.





In the town of Vagli Sotto you can stroll medieval streets, and in the season also rent a boat, kayak or pedal boat and go searching for the ghost valley. At low water level in the lake can be seen just below the surface portion of the bell tower.

Cadu Villela

Vagli Sotto © Cadu Villela

Vincenzo Bologna2

Vagli Sotto © Vincenzo Bologna

Vincenzo Bologna

Vagli Sotto © Vincenzo Bologna

Michael Richards

Vagli Sotto © Michael Richards

Additional information:

    • about boat rental in Vagli Sotto you can read  here (page only in italian);
    • near there are several B & Bs and restaurants;
    • to all lovers of photography I recommend to drive the neighboring town of Vagli Sopra, located over Vagli Sotto, with the beautiful and astonishing views of the lake;
    • before entering Vagli Sotto there is ample free parking.


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