Italy underwater: buried treasures

underwater italy

If you are the kind of person that occasionally googles “fun facts about…”, chances are you have been exposed to a large amount of misinformation and a number of hoaxes. Googling “fun facts about Italy”, for instance, will lead you to believe that it is a legal requirement to smile in Milan (it is not: the news is referring to a decree that was issued when Milan was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and although the decree itself was never reversed, the Austro-Hungarian empire has ceased to exist for some time now). Italy, however, is a fascinating Country and there are plenty of fun and true facts about it that you might never have heard of. Therefore, we have decided to compile our own, short, sweet and originally-themed list of curious trivia. Did you know that a lot of interesting things can be found underwater in Italy? Be it sea water, the placid surface of a lake or a famous fountain, if it is in Italy, it may be concealing some kind of treasure.

There’s an 8.2 feet statue of Jesus Christ on the bottom of the sea

christ of the abyss underwater italyThe Christ of the Abyss is a bronze, 8.2 feet statue of Jesus Christ and it can be found at the bottom of the San Fruttuoso Bay, near Portofino, at a depth of nearly 50 feet. This is not, as some may be tempted to think, a relic of times long gone: it was in fact deposited in its current location in 1954 in memory of Dario Gonzatti, an Italian inventor and SCUBA diver, who had died during an underwater expedition. The idea came from his friend and fellow diver Duilio Mercante. The bronze for the statue was obtained by melting maritime medals and ship components, including rotors from WWII submarines. The underwater excursion to visit the spot where the Christ of the Abyss stands is probably the most popular in the region and it is suitable even for beginners, as it only requires basic SCUBA diving skills. The photo opportunities, of course, are spectacular.

You are helping the poor by throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain

trevi fountain underwater italyThe largest underwater treasure in Italy is not buried in a chest at the bottom of a deep underwater cave. In fact, the body of water we are talking about, is shallow enough that Ingrid Bergman only had to soak the bottom half of a beautiful evening gown to wade through it. The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome and no tourist walking by it can resist the temptation of the romantic rite of turning their back on it and tossing a coin into the water, meaning that they hope to visit again. You might think that your own coin is insignificant, but in fact almost a million Euros worth of international change are fished out of the fountain every year and they are given to charity. At the impressive pace of about 8000€ a day, the casual donations of visitors from all over the world have helped feed and shelter those in need for decades. Stealing money from the Fountain is punishable by arrest.

There’s a steeple in the middle of a lake in Italy

curon steeple unrerwater italyAmateur and professional photographers from all over the world flock to Lake Resia all year round, to take pictures of this architectural anomaly in every possible light and weather. Lake Resia is the largest lake in Trentino-Alto Adige and it is part of the town of Curon. The current lake is the artificial result of a complex operation of natural engineering that took place between the 40s and the 50s, when three natural lakes were merged to build a hydroelectric power plant. This meant moving the whole population of Curon higher up on the side of the mountain and flooding the original settlement. The local church steeple, however, was too tall to be submerged entirely and remains to this day, obstinately jutting out of the lake, making it look like a ghostly, surrealist landscape.

If you thought a steeple was weird, how about a whole village?

Fabbriche di Careggine underwater italyGarfagnana is a subregion of Tuscany, in the province of Lucca, and it is a favourite destination for lovers of all things mysterious. Rather, it is a favourite destination for very patient lovers of all things mysterious, who gather around Lake Vagli approximately once every decade, hoping to visit the ancient ghost town of Fabbriche di Careggine. Again, this is a case of human intervention, shaping nature’s resources to serve a certain purpose. In 1947, a dam was built across the Edron creek, which pooled and created an artificial lake, known as Lake Vegli. The rising water flooded some of the nearby settlements, the main one being Fabbriche di Careggine, a medieval hamlet that, at the time had under 150 inhabitants. Perhaps the most surprising feature of Lake Vagli is that it is not permanent: it is drained approximately once every ten years by opening the dam and, on those occasions, the ghost village of Fabbriche di Careggine reappears and it can be visited. The 36 houses that constitute the settlement are roofless but mostly intact and here too the church and its steeple are still standing. It should be noted that the dam is not opened for the purpose of allowing tourists to visit the village, but exclusively for routine maintenance. If you happen to be in the area when the village emerges, however, this spot is definitely worth a visit.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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