In the Alps, on the border between Italy and Austria, there is a small mountain lake that looks like one of the Lord of the Rings locations. New Zealand might be wilder and less inhabited, maybe even more astoundingly beautiful, but Italy has some natural hidden gems, besides its artistic and historical treasures. I’m a huge fan of nature. In the past I was attracted to museums, exhibitions, cities, artwork. Now I long for the beauty of nature, woods, lakes, oceanic beaches, places where one can still find silence and be alone, but not lonely.
In South Tyrol there are such places. One is the above mentioned little lake, which is named Anterselva Lake and is truly in the middle of nowhere. There’s a road that leads to the lake, right on the Italian-Austrian border, from the small town of Valdaora, in Val Pusteria. It follows the course of Anterselva river, running through a green valley with just a few mountain villages. Black and white sheep graze on pastures. The snowy peaks of the Alps frame the peaceful, bucolic landscape.
Before getting to the lake there is a parking lot and then a lovely hotel, the Seehaus. This idyllic hotel (with a very good restaurant serving genuine food) seems to be the perfect place for those who need to run away from the stress of modern life. From here starts the trail that goes around the lake, allowing us to enjoy it from every perspective.
AROUND THE LAKE
Small, sandy beaches hem Anterselva lake, appearing through the pine and fir trees as we walk along the trail. The only sounds are those of nature: birds calling, leaves moving, the wind blowing. It’s springtime, yet there are minuscule snowflakes whirling around us. The Alps are covered in snow and the chilly temperature today has brought a little snow, although the sun keeps breaking through the clouds. What a surreal view.
As we walk on, we meet many inhabitants of the wood, the spirits of the Italian Alps. There’s even a wooden man sitting by a creek. It’s not hard to imagine that gnomes and elves might live in the large, ancient roots of the trees. I bet they’re spying on us.
BRAIES LAKE (PRAGS SEE)
Every place has two names in South Tyrol, which geographically belongs to Italy but has its own traditions and is linked to Austria. I’m secretly happy that we get to have a small part of that country. So I kept reading about Braies lake and Prags See, but only when I looked for them on the map I realized they were the same place. And what a place.
The legends says it was created as a punishment for the mountain people who mistreated a beggar, but the lake actually originated from a landslide. Anyways, there’s something mystical about this place in the Italian Alps. The water is emerald green in some points, deep blue in others. The high mountains surround it like a crown. It reminds me of the Argonath scene in The Lord of The Rings.