An emerald green lake that reflects the imposing peaks of Mount Civetta: the Lake of Alleghe
In addition to the majestic northern wall of Mount Civetta that overlooks this fascinating tourist resort, Alleghe is famous for its namesake lake, a huge body of water, very suggestive all year round, that enhances the charm of this beautiful village of the Agordino and of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
The Lake of Alleghe, perhalps the best known tourist attraction together with Mount Civetta, is the result of a remarkable catastrophic event of the 18th Century, whose genesis is to be found in the particular conditions of the year 1770: the abundant rainfall of the autumn were followed by the chill of winter that compromised the stability of the slopes of Mount Piz (a small elevation located on the hydrological right side of the river Cordevole). Despise the fact that the slow downstream slip of an abundant landslide had been identified and reported by some woodcutters that worked on the foot of the relief (“it looks like the wake of a huge plow”) and it was clearly visible from the villages located on the opposite side of the valley, the inhabitants of Alleghe were not particularly alarmed by the possibility of the occurrence of a catastrophic event, although during the winter 1770-1771 there were several important discharges of boulders from Mount Piz. On January, 11th 1771 around 23.00, 10 million cubic meters of rock collapsed downstream, causing the immediate destruction of three hamlets (Riete, Fusine and Marin) and the death of almost 50 people. During the following months, the stream Cordevole started to fill the valley floor enclosed by the landslide, flooding many hamlets of the village and the ancient Sommariva Castle. Before reaching the top of the dam and thus beginning to flow, the level of the Lake of Alleghe was much higher than today and reached almost the hamlet of Caprile, destroying sereval other houses. Not well known is the story related to the second landslide of Mt. Piz; on May, 1st 1771, the waters of the lake, now stabilized, acting on the base of the relief still in precarious stability, led to a second massive landslide that collapsed in the lake creating a huge wave that destroyed many other houses and killed four people. The Republic of Venice, to which the territory of Alleghe belonged, tried to find a solution to drain the water of the lake, but the poor skills of the time, the distance from the capital city of the “Serenissima” republic and, perhaps, the complexity of the logistic operations may have convinced the engineers to desist from the project; the only possible alternative was to rebuild the village further upstream, exactly where it is nowadays.
Throughout the 19th Century, many studies on the lake bottom have been carried out; they were aimed to understand whether it would have been possible to recover of the make a picture of something , but the muddiness and the low visibility have convinced the scholars to give up: the ancient village of Alleghe and the Sommavilla Castle seem to be destinated to remain exactly where they’re today, under the surface of the Lake of Alleghe. Anyway, despite the tremendous tragedy of the collapse of Mount Piz, the Lake of Alleghe has become nowadays a tourist attraction for the inhabitants of this beautiful place of the Dolomites, so that everyone who comes to visit the area has almost obligatorily to make a stop in Alleghe.
A local legend claims that in certain nights, when the moon is full and the everything is still, it is possible to hear the bell tolling coming from the ancient church of the village located beneath the surface of the Lake of Alleghe.
Lake of Alleghe | Tourist information:
Alleghe Tourist Office
Phone: +39 0437 523333