The Vajont disaster and the strength of the Made in Italy


It was the evening of 9 October 1963. On the north side of Mount Toc, about 270 million cubic meters of rock slid into the artificial lake created by the Vajont dam, causing a flood wave over 200 meters high. This tragedy is known in the history as the Vajont disaster: almost 2000 dead and whole countries erased from the map.

Designed by engineer Carlo Semenza, the Vajont dam was built between 1957 and 1960 in the territory of two villages of Erto and Casso, in the province of Pordenone, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, along the Vajont stream, in order to obtain hydropower by a network of reservoirs which involved, in addition to the Piave and the Vajont, other rivers of the area. That night in 1963, a series of unfortunate circumstances made that the huge mass of rock worsens at a speed of 108 km per hour, finishing in the waters of the hydroelectric basin of Vajont that at the time of the disaster, contained about 115 million cubic meters of water.

The water of the dam went up to the opposite slope destroying all the towns along the lake shore in the town of Erto and Casso, finally spilling into the valley of the Piave and sliding in the mud the village of Longarone and other neighboring municipalities. The loss of nearly 2,000 victims settled a nefarious record in Italian and world history: it had become one of the worst tragedies that humanity will never forget.

Among the many factors that over the years have led to the rebirth of these lands (also economic), is the decision of big companies in the Belluno eyewear district to transfer right there, at the end of the 80s, their headquarters and major centers of production. The “eyewear district” includes the massive presence of companies that produce glasses always focusing on the quality of Made in Italy, extended over the whole territory of the province of Belluno, where there are three areas of concentration: the Cadore, the Agordino and Longarone, Alpago, Feltre, Bellunese and Val Belluna areas. There is also a significant presence in the provinces of Treviso, Padua and Venice.

It all began in the early 60s, when some local entrepreneurs began making craft glasses, which had an overwhelming expansion. Between the 60s and the 90s, the Piave Valley became a sort of Silicon Valley of optics.

It is suffice to say that here, in the Belluno area, began – and still continues – the history of Luxottica, today one of the largest companies in the world for luxury eyewear and sunglasses, which produces frames for brands such as Ray-Ban, Vogue, Prada and Chanel. Also in the province of Belluno and more specifically in Cadore, there are the most factories of glasses in Italy, as well as the Museo dell’Occhiale (Eyeglass Museum).

These include, for example, the Trenti, a company specialized for 55 years in the manufacturing of eyeglasses and sunglasses, founded in 1959 in Calalzo di Cadore by Mario Trenti, one of the pioneers eyewear Cadore, the Occhialeria Artigiana Cadorina, the company Borca Occhiali, but also young companies like Polar, a brand that combines creativity, boldness, technical expertise and communication. In the province of Treviso, on the other hand, there is the CIDI Eyewear Design, which produces sunglasses and eyeglasses developing the project from sketch to production, with a technologically advanced production chain.


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