The sumberged bell tower of Curon

The bell tower of the small town of Curon, in Trentino-Alto Adige, juts out from Lake Resia like the tip of an iceberg, whose submerged body tells a dramatic story now almost sixty years old.

In 1950, the construction of a dam for a hydroelectric plant required merging two large lakes – Resia and Curon, also known as “Middle Lake” or “Mittersee” in German, about 1,500 meters above sea level. The old town of Curon Venosta was razed to the ground and buried forever under 120 million cubic meters of freshwater. Over fifty hectares of land and almost two hundred houses in this part of the Venosta Valley disappeared.

The population was relocated, with great difficulties and obvious protests, in a new town higher up on the mountain. Even the pope was involved at the time: a delegation of local residents visited Pius XII and asked him to help stop the project. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do.

From then on, the landscape of Curon would feature a one-by-six kilometer basin, with the top of a bell tower peaking out where a 14th-century church still stands, underwater.

Today, everyone agrees this view is simply beautiful. During the winter, when the lake freezes over, you can even walk around the top of this Romanic iceberg. According to legend, its bells can be heard for a few days every year.

That is, indeed, a legend: the bells were removed in 1950. And only the silent solemnity of the tower was left to tell this story.

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December 15, 2013

The sumberged bell tower of Curon

Curon (Bz)