A sight unlike any other sits in Italy’s Lake Resia. Jutting out from the depths of the lake stands a tall, slanted bell tower.
Located in northern Italy near the borders of Austria and Switzerland, Lake Resia is a beautiful, perfectly normal lake, save for its timetable accessory. The visuals are striking: tall, purple mountains, miles of lush, green trees, the great expanse of the blue lake -- and situated in the middle of it all is the manmade stone building that has stood in the water, unmoved, for more than 60 years.
This bell tower is the only visible remnant of the former town of Curon, whose buildings were intentionally submerged in the 1950s. In the wake of World War II, local officials collaborated with a power company to create a dam that assisted with the production of hydroelectric energy. The catch? In order to join two natural lakes, they needed to create an artificial one -- right in the spot the town sat.
Residents protested, but the water was not diverted, and the town was subsequently demolished, flooded, and buried forever. Its residents moved nearby to found a brand new city of Curon. Thanks to the height of the bell tower, there will always be a visual reminder of the town that once was.
The bell tower itself was attached to the town’s church building, the Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, and its construction dates back to the 14th century. The actual bells were removed from the tower prior to the town’s demolition and submergence, yet legends persist that the tower, with its incredible history and lonesome imagery, can still be heard ringing its bells, echoing across the frozen lake on dark, wintery nights.
As an understandably popular tourist destination, the lake is open year-round. During the warm summer months, visitors can hike the surrounding paths, taking in the bell tower from a distance, or reserve a seat on the daily boat trips that circle the lake and pass right by the structure. In the winter months, when the lake ices over, visitors have the opportunity to walk across it, directly to the bell tower, and try their best to hear the legend’s ghostly bells.
Today, the new Curon is home to the Alta Val Venosta Museum, which details the history of the area through artifacts and photos. It serves as a great followup to the bell tower visit. Located in the Eastern Alps, the lake is also surrounded by areas for hiking, biking, and winter sports.
A trip to northern Italy is rife with opportunities for fun, unforgettable travel, but it would be incomplete without a visit to the beautiful, still-standing bell tower of Lake Resia.