The 13th century war between the families of the Pisani from Venice and the Visconti from Milan for the possession of the east coast of Sardinia was a catastrophe that forced the locals to leave their homes and move into the mountains, beginning the story of Gairo Ghost Town at 800 m above sea level. A new home, not far from sea, midst forests, a paradise of fertile land, and another catastrophe as continentals followed, cutting their woods for timber, like sleepers that went into Italian railways. Erosion set in to deliver the next catastrophes in 1880, 1927, 1940 and finally the mother of all alluvial floods happening in 1951.
Source slideshow pictures: Murales In Sardegna
After exceptionally dry years with lake water evaporating to a fourth of normal levels, huge depressions build-up above Baleares and Balkans, in between sucking hot humid air from Africa northward and as cooling Sirocco wind rose against the Sardinian mountains, pouring started on the night from 12 to 13 October, continuing for 4 days until almost one and a half meter of rain had soaked the soil. Running down the mountain slopes, causing landslides, uprooted trees, washed away farmlands, 90 destroyed houses at Gairo, cut-off roads, overflowing braided rivers breaking through bridges and people left abandoned in towns inaccessible from the outside world. Since then Gairo became vecchio and the new village Gairo S Elena was born a kilometer further up-slope. Such is the story of the proud Sardinians reconstructing their lives again and against exploitation, too often betrayed by their own kind for a marginally better position and a handful of coins.