Lago di Pilato

The Lake of Pilato, magical and mysterious place…

Lake Pilato can be found in the Sibillini mountains, 1,941m above sea level near the summit of Mount Vettore, in the province of Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche, not far from the Umbrian border.

It is set in a bowl, enclosed in a narrow glacial valley with the slopes of the Apennine mountains creating walls around it. Lago di Pilato is an alpine glacier lake, one of only a few found on the Apennines, and, other than coastal lakes, it is the only natural lake in Le Marche. It was formed during the last ice age, between 125,000 and 10,000 years ago, and is fed by a natural spring but is also effected by rainfall and melting snow. Roughly 130 metres wide it has a perimeter of 900 metres and a depth of just under nine metres.

The lake itself hosts a small shrimp known as the ‘Chirocephalus marchesonii’ and this is the only place in the world that it can be found. This small crustacean, measuring between and 9mm and 12mm, is a species of fairy shrimp. The Chirocephalus marchesonii is slow moving and has a distinctive, bright coral colour. Another noteable feature is that they always swim on their backs.

Lago di Pilato is only accessible on foot and is a popular destination for hikers. The most common starting point is from the small village of  Foce, near Montemonaco.

As well as being a very popular trekking destination, Lago di Pilato is traditionally famous for being a place full of magic and mystery. It takes its name from Pontius Pilate, whose body, after being condemned to death by Tiberius, was put into a sack and loaded onto a buffalo cart. According to legend, the buffalo was unsupervised and made a hazardous journey through the mountains, to the crest of ‘Redeemer’s Summit’, which resulted in the body falling into Lago di Pilato. Because of this, the lake became popular with witches and necromancers who built stone walls around it to prevent Christians from entering. They even spread a rumour that the lake was secretly the entrance to hell.


Environmental Guide AIGAE (The Italian Association for Professional Nature and Interpretive Guides) :

Andrea Piccirilli 3282932998  –

lago di pilato

Posted in Walks and Guided Tours.

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