Lake Resia and the bell tower in the lake are beautiful and somewhat magical. Yet, the story behind it is a sad one.
So, you watched the Netflix Curon serial, or you are planning to visit Lake Resia? Learn about the real tragic story of Curon, the village of Alt Grauen, below.
🗺️ Where is Lake Resia located?
Lake Resia is located in South Tyrol, the northernmost province of Italy. The area is also known as Alto Adigo in Italian, or Südtirol in German, or the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.
To be more precise, it’s in the Val Venosta, which is also called Vinschgau, bordering Austria and Switzerland.
The lake resia is also known as Reschensee as it is located right after the Reschen mountain pass (resia pass), or laggo di resia in Italian.
The village of Grauen im Vinschgau, aka the village of Curon in Italian, is situated right next to the lake. And that’s where our story beginns…
⛪️ Why is there a Bell Tower in the Lake?
Over a 100 years ago, South Tyrol was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Italy then annexed South Tyrol after World War 1. Today, the locals speak both German and Italian in South Tyrol.
The Fascist regime, in Rome, decided to build a hydroelectric plant to support the Italian energy network after South Tyrol became Italian.
The plan came in place after World War 2. For that, they had to flood and merge 2 natural lakes to build a damn, the resia lake and the Mittersee. The company Montecatini received a green go from the Italian government.
The local residents fought against it at the time because the village Grauen was to be flooded completely, yet the Italian government went ahead anyway.
The dam was surprisingly flooded before the official start in August in 1949. Homes and farms were left with stale water and an inhumane rot.
Soon after, the houses and church were blasted with dynamite. Only the bell tower of St. Katherine was left standing because it’s a protected monument from the 14th century.
This submerged church tower in the lake is what you see today at the shore of the lake resia. The village of Alt-grauen, as the old village is known today, was located right there in the waters of the lake.
When the dam was completely flooded, more than 150 families were left to rebuild further up a new village just before winter or to leave. About 70% of the population left, many moved to other parts of South Tyrol or Austria at the time.
Today, the bell tower in the lake is a grim reminder of what happened here.
💧 Drained Lake in 2021
We visited Grauen and the Reschensee in May in 2021, just when they planned to drain the lake.
The former village ruins of Alt-Grauen were visible after they drained it, which must have been for a few days only because we visited during that period after they had announced it. The reservoir water was drained for maintenance purpose.
So, we didn’t see the ruins… but I found a clip showing it all on a website. Former house steps are visible and rubble.
BUT we filmed a walk around the Lake Resia bell tower. There is a walking passage for visitors, so you can actually walk around it in spring.
💡 Tips for your visit
Parking is right next to the bell tower in the lake. It’s a paid parking: €1 per hour and only with coins. The parking can be super busy, so come early enough or wait until something is free. Parking in the new village is limited too and a little walk. Some people give away their unused parking hour, which is great!
Plan at least 30-60 mins there.
The weather is rather cool all year round, so come with a jacket because it can get windy.
There are some food stands next to the lake to pick up something to eat.
You can stay over in local inns in the Grauen village.
The walk path around the tower might not be accessible after the snow melt in summer.
The part where the church tower is, can freeze completely in winter, and then you can walk over the layer of ice to the tower and touch it!
The Reschenpass to Austria nearby is a free passage pass in fact, it’s the only free passage to Austria.
🏞 Things to do nearby
If you intend to visit lake resia to see the bell tower for yourself or to learn more about the region, I’d recommend you some more things to do there:
- St. Anne’s church – Located on the hill near the bell tower in the lake is the St. Anne’s church. From there you will get a wonderful view of the landscape.
- Lake Resia boat ride – Also situated near the bell tower. You can book a 1-hour boat ride on the lake.
- Haider Lake – Another lake nearby. There is a stunning natural area, and it’s known as a fishing paradise. You can go for a relaxed walk around the lake in summer, and in winter, the lake is turned into an ice skating ring.
- Vallelunga – is located in the upper val venosta valley, near Curon. The villages and hamlets there are super traditional, and it’s well worth the visit too for the view you get there. You can also hike up to the Palla Bianca glacier.
- Glurns – is a village nearby. The buildings are in the traditional colors and Tyrol architecture.
- Castello Di Montechiaro – Also known as Schloss Lichtenberg is a fort ruin. You can go up and explore the ruin and enjoy a breathtaking view of the area.
- Biking – Hire a mountain bike and take a relaxed tour to discover the val venosta
The bell tower was removed right after the village was flooded. Yet, locals reported hearing the bell ringing at odd times. Especially at night, the bell sound seems to come from the lake.
The villagers owned hectares of land where cattle were grazing, which was the local’s main income. You can see on the pictures here what the village looked like before it was flooded and how it looked like after the first floods took over everything.