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Italy's Gorgeous Lakes Are a Traveler's Best-Kept Secret

4 weeks ago
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The Secret Lakes That Will Make Your Italian Journey One to Remember

Every year, travelers flock to Italy to enjoy its famous mix of historical cities, artistic culture, and culinary delights. Its enduring popularity is a wondrous draw for crowds, so much so that it’s also great to escape the lovely, smaller lakes in the countryside to enjoy fantastic scenery and delightful adventure as you breathe in the fresh, clean air. As idyllic travel spots go, Italian lakes are some of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Here are a few of our favorites:

Lake Turano/Lago del Turano

When the heat and crowds of Rome feel too aggressive, drive 60 miles northeast into Lazio and unwind by the turquoise-hued Lago del Turano. Nestled below forested mountain peaks in the Raiti province, this secluded valley became an unexpected destination for travel in the late 1930s. As Italian engineers built a dam to produce hydroelectric power for the area, they also created a reservoir that became a summertime oasis for citizens of the Eternal City. As you head toward the tranquil waters, you’ll enjoy pastoral visions of grazing sheep and cattle.

Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll discover a gorgeous scene and enjoy warm, crystalline water that laps against pebbled shores. When it’s warm, you can sunbathe, take a dip, rent a canoe, or sign up for a tour on a fishing boat. You can also take a trip up the hills to visit the ancient Colle di Tora and the medieval Castel di Tora, which connects to the main road via a metal bridge. In winter, the area is largely deserted, but in spring, those with holiday homes return, decorate their patios with flowers, and meet in the piazza for drinks or stop by L’Angoletto for a dinner of fresh fish.

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Lake Scanno/Lago di Scanno

The enchanting Lago di Scanno lies in the embrace of two small limestone mountain groups in the Marsicani range in Abruzzo. Named after the clifftop village above it, some say that this heart-shaped natural lake has magical powers. Locals tell tales of miracles and unusual phenomena, tracing its aura back to the magicians of ancient Rome, the fairy Angiolina, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and some say the lake has divine energy. As locals tell it, the lake makes divers' compasses spin madly and brings lost, antique weapons up to its surface.

Others claim to have been frightened by exploding light bulbs, but scientists doubt these events are supernatural, saying that shifting magnetic fields under the lake’s surface are the more likely culprit. Still, there’s no doubt that the waters take on a mystical air during the height of summer. Visitors can view the basin in full by walking the “Path of the Heart,” stop for gelato, and visit the old church at the lake’s south end. From here, they can access the narrow, stony beach, where they can rest under an umbrella or take a canoe or pedalo out on the water. Windsurf. You can also swim in the cool, clear waters of this Blue Flag site, tinted shimmering green by harmless algae. Once you break free of the spell, head back up into the village of Scanno to see a patchwork of palaces and shepherd dwellings decorated with bright flower pots, eat pastries, and traditional dishes like sagne e fagioli and maccheroni alla chitarra that are characteristic of eastern Italy.


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