The Lake of Pilato

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Every time you walk up to the Lake of Pilato it is like the first time… You need to leave early in the morning to reach the small village of Foce di Montemonaco and start the walk across the Gardosa plain, the pungent breeze on your face and the first rays of light across the valley, forests and rock walls give a nice feeling. Emotion and fatigue accompany you on the edge of “le svolte”, steep scree zig- zag, and then you pass the beautiful beech forest beyond which the landscape opens out over the valley and the trail climbs a bit more gently. The sun starts to shine, but the fresh breeze will accompany you to the top. The climb is strenuous and after passing countless valleys fatigue begins to be felt, but the effort is rewarded, in the spring and summer months, by the spectacle of the beautiful wild flowers of very rare and valuable species, such as the Apennine Edelweiss ( Leontopodium Nivale ) and many others. One last effort and the land opens before you, as you enter the magnificent Lake Valley, a wonderful amphitheater of nature between the peaks of the Vettore and the Redentore, jealously guarded by the Grand Gendarme rock. You are now at an altitude of 1,941 meters above sea level, and it really is a spectacle of nature never to be forgotten! This is the only natural lake in the Marche and one of the few glacial alpine lakes present in the Apennines. The small lakes of crystal clear water, which according to the seasons are combined or split into two, host a very special creature, a tiny red crustacean, called Chirocefalo Marchesonii, named after its discoverer. Lake Pilato is believed to be the only place on earth where this particular crustacean exists and its ecosystem is particularly sensitive, so you must be careful not to get close to the shores of the lake, to avoid stepping on the Chirocefalo’s eggs that lay among the rocks in the dry.

This place is not only a place of natural beauty, but also a magical and mysterious place… In the early Middle Ages the lake was frequented by magicians and necromancers who celebrated their rites and consecrated their books and this lake became famous all over Europe for the practice of alchemy and magic… Another one of the many legends about this place says that, after his death sentence, the body of the procurator Pontius Pilate was placed on a cart pulled by oxen and left to the mercy of fate nearby. It is said that the oxen pulled the cart into the water and sank in the icy waters of lake Pilate and so this is the final resting place of Pontius Pilate!

In the Museo della Sibilla in Montemonaco, a stone known as “The Great Stone” is preserved. This is engraved with mysterious letters and signs and found a few years ago by the Lake.

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