Surreal Places: the old bell tower of submerged Curon


The pleasant village of Graun, in Italian Curon Venosta, is located in the heart of the tourist region Val Venosta, not far from the border with Switzerland and Austria.

The symbol of Curon is the bell tower, which rises from the waters of Lake Resia. The bell tower was part of the original village, when it was artificially flooded to join the Lake Curon and Resia. The bell tower shows where once stood Old Curon before the creation of the artificial lake. New Curon extends today on the shores of Lake Resia.

Built around the end of 1300, separate from the church, the bell tower has been a reminder of what happened in the years 1949/50. Engineer Josef Duile Curon, in the middle of the last century put into effect his plan, that is, lower the “Mittersee” (also known as Lake Curon) and at the same time obtaining new agricultural land.

This project was then suspended due to a natural disaster occurred in 1855, when the cataract of the lake collapsed devastating the villages of Burgusio, Clusio, Laudes and Glorenza. The project could be taken up and carried out only in 1858.

Under the Austro – Hungarian Empire the next project was a reservoir for the production of electricity. Italian government in 1920 took up the project and granted to raise the water level up to 5 meters. In 1939, the state granted to the consortium “Montecatini” the construction of a dam on the lake Curon, which was to allow stagnation of water up to 22 meters. In this project, the population of Curon and Resia were neglected. With the onset of World War II, the project was temporarily abandoned. Inhabitants of the Val Venosta believed that the project of artificial basin to be buried forever. In 1947, however, the “Montecatini” brought news of the immediate continuation of the construction of a dam. Curon and Resia population, with the pastor Alfred Rieper, tried to activate all possible policy levers to prevent the continuation of the work. The inhabitants went even to the Pope in Rome, for a rethinking of the Italian government, but did gain nothing.

Curon before the flooding

They attempted an uprising in front of the office of the “Montecatini” Resia, but even in this case had no result. Desperately the population attended without regard to the expulsion from their land, home and farm. Eventually, in the summer of 1950 this tragedy came the end. The cataracts were closed and the water of the lake went up day after day submerging 677 hectares of land. About 150 families were robbed of their lives, half were forced to emigrate. The compensation was very small.

Inhabitants of Curon were provisionally allocated in barracks built in a remote area of Vallelunga. In Resia, houses were built quickly, before the onset of winter.


Today the tower is the only piece left alive, to remind the village of Curon. The bell tower was put under the protection of the fine arts department and became the symbol of the town of Curon. On 9 July 2009 restoration works were concluded: the water level of the lake was previously (in May) slightly lowered to allow work on the recovery of static structure, but also on the cracks that were present in corners of the north and north-east facades, most likely caused by the infiltration of water in small cracks and its subsequent winter frosts. Even the roof was restored, as the bell tower is considered a medieval heritage to be protected. The total cost of the restoration in 2009, was around € 130,000. In winter, when the lake freezes, the bell tower is within walking distance. A legend tells that in some winter days is possible to still hear the bells ringing (which instead were removed from the bell tower July 18, 1950, before the formation of the lake).