THE SUBMERGED HISTORY
For more than a thousand years the route of Fraele, along with the route of Umbraglio, has been one of the most important and disputed transalpine routes. The importance of the commercial and military traffic of these roads is lost in the mists of time. The most important village of the valley of Fraele was the village of San Giacomo that, although not larger than a few houses, had a particular importance.
The little town was marked by the medieval church of San Giacomo (documented since the 13th century), which also had beside it a “xenodochio” (ancient Catholic hostel) to accommodate wayfarers and pilgrims. Iron mines and furnaces were also present in the area and here the iron ore was worked before it was sent to the smithy at the bottom of the valley.
The village was most likely populated all year round. This was almost certainly true until the Napoleonic era. In that era, in fact, the village was almost completely destroyed and its citizens were forced to escape to Premadio and Pedenosso.
In the first half of the last century, before being submerged by the waters of the dam, the little village still had: a barrack of the customs officer, a postal station, a tavern and the aforementioned medieval church of San Giacomo.
The most cruel and dramatic event in the history of this area happened in 1635. During the famous 30 years’ war between Spain and France, a big battle took place near San Giacomo and more than 2000 soldiers died on the field.
CURIOSITIES AND LEGENDS
– One morning in November 1935, Massimo Bradanini, known as “Castrìn”, saw the ghosts of the soldiers appear out of the waters of lake San Giacomo and, exactly 300 years after the battle of 1635, they were continuing to fight.
– The San Giacomo bell tower was not destroyed by the waters during the first year’s flooding and, as the bell tower of the lake of Resia (BZ) does nowadays, remained alone and austere to remind the citizens of the valley of the history submerged by the waters. Maybe because of that, it was demolished the next year…
Enjoy your visit to Cancano!!
Stefano and all of the staff of Albergo Adele
Sources: La filovia dello Stelvio di Alessandro Albé e Sergio Viganò – Pietro Macchione editore 2016; Informazioni private e archivistiche Lorenza Fumagalli, Massimilano Trabucchi, Dario Cossi;
Pictures: Archivio Albergo Adele – Stefano Bedognè; Archivio Marino Amonini; Archivio Ilario Silvestri su concessione del Centro Studi Storici Alta Valtellina;
Italian text revision: Eugenio Rossetti;
English text revision: Paul Faller