The Truth About Italy's Underwater Ghost Village

It sounds like the stuff of fantasy. An underwater ghost village in the Mediterranean? That's got to be a lost suburb of Atlantis, right? Do mermaid ghosts live there, and do they swim or just eerily pass through the water like it doesn't exist? Hopefully science will resolve those spectral questions at some point, but this particular underwater village is called Fabbriche di Careggine, and it was decidedly mermaid-free when it achieved ghost status.

According to sources like Visit Tuscany, Fabbriche di Careggine has existed since the 12th century, while the International Business Times and other outlets report that it's been around since the 13th century. Regardless of exactly when it was born, this village survived the Middle Ages, and lasted into the 20th century. But the village was selected to be the site of a man-made lake in the 1940s, forcing residents to evacuate and resettle in the town of Vagli di Sotto.

Resurrecting a ghost village

The artificial lake opened in 1953, via the International Business Times. Once the home of iron workers, it now slept with the fishes, buried under 34 million cubic tons of water. Visit Tuscany writes that the village "disappeared forever," but that statement seems extremely premature. The underwater ghost village resurfaced in 1955, after the dam was emptied and again in 1974, 1983, and 1994. In May 2020, Lorenza Giorgi, the daughter of Fabbriche di Careggine's former mayor, announced in a Facebook post that the dam has another scheduled emptying in 2021.

One resurrected from its watery grave, the village may drown in a sea of tourists. When it last opened in 1994, more than a million people showed up, according to Giorgi. Thousands are expected to drop by in 2021 to see the sopping wet skeleton of this dead village and probably rusty ghosts of iron workers. Archaeologists, however, consider it a golden opportunity for the public to appreciate the 20th-century architecture of Italy.