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Lago di Scanno, a real treasure for amateurs and sportspeople

14 July 2022

3 minutes

While romantics are enchanted by its heart shape, sportspeople and nature lovers are drawn to its rugged and undeniably enchanting side: Lago di Scanno is the most spectacular and most visited body of water in Abruzzo.

A stunning landscape with 3,000 years of history

Colour contrasts, tones and shadows create an intricate effect with the blue of the sky, the dense green of the vegetation and the white of the frequently snow-capped peaks. Then there’s the history made of events and legends. 

Lago di Scanno, a lake of great charm, was formed after a catastrophic landslide on Monte Genzana. While experts believe its origin dates back to some 3,000 years ago, a local legend places in further back in time: they say the lake was created during a war in which Roman soldiers faced Battifolio, a local king. Confronting his certain defeat, Battifolio cast a spell that showered the battlefield with water, thus forming the lake that prevented his enemies from advancing. 

A unique setting for an unforgettable panorama

At the foot of the dense Montagna Grande forests, Lago di Scanno, which is part of the Monte Genziana Reserve, consists of a vast basin 922 metres above sea level and reaches a maximum depth of 36 metres. As the main tourist attraction in the valle del Sagittario, it has long been a highly popular destination for those who enjoy the beauty of its setting and climate, harmony with nature, and inviting waters. 

A visit to Scanno, a splendid medieval village that is one of the best known and most characteristic in Abruzzo, should not be missed. The old town centre, with its old houses clustered together, small palaces, staircases and winding paths, retains a thriving tradition of jewellery-making and bobbin lace-making. 

Climbing up through the Gole del Sagittario that leads to Scanno, it is worth visiting the Lago di San Domenico, where you can find the Eremo di San Domenico, a cave dug out of the limestone rock where San Domenico stayed until around the year 1000, as tradition has it. The Hermitage, which can be reached by crossing a charming medieval-style bridge, is named after the Benedictine monk who came from Sora in honour of the miracles accomplished during his pilgrimages.

A hint of spirituality and mystery

Among the unusual sights in the area is the church dedicated to Santa Maria dell'Annunziata, known as Madonna del Lago, on the south shore. Popular with pilgrims and devotees, it is home to elaborate frescoes by local painters. 

This Abruzzo treasure also appeals to lovers of mystery: INGV divers have reported that, in the northern part of the lake, magnetic field activity can be measured with anomalies that have given rise to fascinating legends, reconstructions and stories. 

While nature walks and silence are a way of reconnecting with the world, the crystal-clear green waters make a perfect backdrop for canoe and paddle-boat excursions and water sports. Both fishermen and birdwatchers will have plenty of fun. Fish thrive in the water while the surface comes alive with mallards, herons, grebes and moorhens, depending on the season.

Traditional gastronomic delights

The culinary tradition of the area is of home-made and pastoral origin, with rich and authentic flavours: goat cheese, grilled meat, tasty first courses and fish caught straight from the lake. The pastry shop will also tempt your sweet tooth with its biscotti secchi, ferratelle, mostaccioli and pan dell'orso.

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