Graun, Italy

Today, the largest lake in Switzerland covers what was once a town. Graun, a village in Italy, was established while the Roman Empire was still a thing. In 1939 Swiss power company “Elektrowatt” set their sights on a large artificial lake that would provide seasonal power to the whole Reschenpass (a long pass through the Alps with many small towns).

Graun, before the Flood
The flooding of a town with 163 houses and buildings and a fourteenth century church was a minor detail. Elektrowatt had changed their plans when another town had voted not to be submerged in 1920. So, in post World War II Italy, the money was most important, and Montecatini, a power construction company, was paid 30,000,000 Swiss Francs for building the dam in return for ten years of power supplied free to the Reschen Valley.

Sailing through the Town
In 1947, the dam was built. In 1950, the town was flooded. There is a local legend that says you can hear the church bells ringing on cold winter nights. (The bells were removed a week before the town was flooded.) All that is visible above the lake now is the bell tower of St. Katherina church.

Winter Frozen Winter
In winter, it is a popular spot for skating and bonfires. (It is also the only time when the bell tower can be safely scaled.) It seems extreme to us today, but sometimes the price of progress is the whole town.
That’s it, except to say that Graun was established in 15 BCE when Celts were forced by the Roman Emperor to work on the Reschen Pass Road, then called the “Via Claudia Augusta.” So long, until next week.

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