The belfry and east apse of Pirago are the few remains of the ancient church destroyed in the Vajont disaster. The site is somehow not fully considered, though it offers a unique space for reflection.
Dedicated to Saint Thomas the Apostle, the Church was built around late 1400 by the members of the “Rule” of Longarone, Igne and Pirago, who also cared for its maintenance and buried their dead in the adjoining cemetery.
Pirago, one of the hamlets surrounding Longarone, developed in continuity with the town towards the entrance to the Zoldo Valley and was almost fully destroyed in the night of the catastrophe: at dawn on October 10, 1963, all that was left of this lively little village was a bunch of smashed houses and, as a miraculous sign, the intact belfry of the Saint Thomas church, standing out among the debris.
This image awoke in survivors and rescuers both incredulity and astonishment, and at the same time stood as a steadfast sign of admonition to men for what had irreparably occurred. This lonely and steady presence in the muddy plain also echoed a strong survival instinct and will to live.
The entire area was subject to restoration works in 2000, which also concerned the renovation of the cemetery, restoration of the belfry and apse of Saint Thomas church aiming at preserving and enhancing the value of a so precious historical heritage site. The style of the original flooring was reproduced on the area facing the apse, and bordered by a stone profile marking the perimeter of the ancient nave, using the residual paved stones and replacing the missing ones with similar plates of the Castellavazzo Stone.
The only left historical testimony of the religious furniture and furnishings contained in the Church consists of the altar piece and the wooden altar originally placed in the apse, now restored and waiting to be brought back to their proper location.
The belfry of Pirago is 1 km from the town centre and can be reached through the provincial road No. 251 driving in the direction of the Zoldo Valley, then following road signs to “Campanile di Pirago”.