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Diga del Vajont

A path through history

About this place


The dam rises in the municipality of Erto and Casso in the province of Pordenone, along the Vajont stream. It was built between the 1950s and 1960s, after a long design phase begun as early as the 1920s by engineer Carlo Semenza. Its function was to create a water reservoir for hydroelectric power generation by harnessing the water and gradients of the Piave River and its tributaries. Inaugurated in 1961, it never completed the testing phase as, in 1963, about 3 million cubic meters of rock landslided into the reservoir causing an overflow. The water poured over the neighboring towns of Erto and Casso devastating them and continued its course down the valley floor flooding and destroying the town of Longarone. Two thousand people were killed in the tragic event.


In recent years, thanks in part to guided tours conducted by local volunteers, this place is attracting a great deal of interest and has become a destination for tourists and those who wish to learn about the dam, its history and the events that led it to imprint its name in everyone’s mind.

3 top reasons to visit


The dam is imposing

Although built 60 years ago, it remains to this day one of the largest and most impressive dams ever built. Its height of 262 meters brings it to the eighth position among the world’s largest dams. When it was built, it was the tallest dam ever constructed and is still considered a masterpiece of engineering today.


Journey through history

A visit to this place provides insight into the facts and evidence that led to the tragic event known as the “Vajont disaster.” It is a way not to forget but also to experience up close the history that this place preserves.


Erto and Casso

Interesting to visit the two neighboring villages that were touched and partially spared by the 1963 tragedy. Renovated in the years following the events, they retain the charm of the past, among small cobblestone streets and stone houses nestled in the landscape of the surrounding valley.

The tour of the dam

For nearly 20 years, the dam has been reopened for the public to visit this place. In fact, since the summer of 2002, ENEL, which owns the facility, has allowed local associations to conduct tours.

The visit takes about 1 hour and is moderately priced. The Informants of Memory, or volunteers from Erto, Casso and Longarone, go over the entire history of the dam with the public, from its conception, to its features, to a detailed explanation of the tragic events of 1963. During the visit we walk along the top of the lock until we reach the other end.

The dam tunnels inside the mountain are not open to visitors, except during the day of “The Paths of Memory,” when a running race, non-competitive, is held through areas normally closed to the public.

The story of the disaster

The name Vajont is well-known and unhappily linked to one of the greatest disasters of the 1900s. It all occurred on the night of October 9, 1963, when a landslide about 2 km long broke off from Mount Toc, ending its course in the reservoir, created with the brand new Vajont Dam.

A column of water of 50 million cubic meters, bypassed the dam and partially washed away the towns of Erto and Casso, then channeled into the Piave Valley and literally wiped out everything in its path, primarily the town of Longarone, which is located exactly at the outlet of the stream valley. In a matter of minutes, in addition to homes and infrastructure, 2,000 people were killed who had no time to get to safety and in most cases not even to notice what was happening.

The dam, the pride and joy of Italian engineering at the time, withstood the blow, remaining only partially nicked at its top. The main problem, therefore, was not engineering but geological in nature. In fact, a large prehistoric landslide was hidden under the Toc mountain, which was stressed and set in motion again by the filling and emptying of the basin during testing.

Various studies, carried out before and in conjunction with the construction of the dam, had raised some safety issues related to the stability of the surrounding soils, but they were somehow downplayed and partially covered up by the great political influence of SADE, the then Adriatic Electricity Company.

By the time it was realized that the mountain was slowly and inexorably sliding toward the basin, it was already too late. In less than 30 minutes after the alert call to SADE officials, the landslide detached and plunged into the basin, initiating the known event.

The landslide - That night of October 9

“A stone fell into a glass filled with water and the water overflowed onto the tablecloth. That’s all. Except that the glass was hundreds of meters high and the stone was as big as a mountain, and below, on the tablecloth, stood thousands of human creatures who could not defend themselves.” Dino Buzzati


Absolutely. The cost of 10 euros, to which the 2 euros for parking should be added, is modest but the grandeur of the dam, the value of the visit and the emotion it conveys are worth much more.

Not far from the store is the entrance to a trail that leads to the foot of the dam in about 10 minutes. You can have your guides show you the exact starting point, but the descent is not part of the guided tour. The trail is a bit steep, take care to wear appropriate footwear and do not venture out in rainy weather.

In the year of construction, the dam was the largest in the world at 261.60 meters high, 190.50 meters wide and 3.40 meters thick at the apex, 22.11 meters thick at the base. It was completed by 60 kilometers of tunnels connecting it to five other dams and four power plants on the Piave River course. The dam is still considered a masterpiece of engineering and, to date, is the eighth highest in the world.


Through this section you can contact the Erto Visitor Center directly. You can inquire about services, rates, reservation and other information. Remember that with this form you will contact the activity managers directly. Explorer FVG is only an intermediary and does not handle responses and is not responsible for the information exchanged in these conversations.

Contact information:
Visitor center of Erto
Friulian Dolomites Natural Park
Piazzale del Ritorno, 3
33080, Erto E Casso (PN).

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