Lake of San Domenico: the emerald lake



San Domenico lake


The colorful lake of San Domenico

Did you know that the water of Lake San Domenico is emerald colored? The lake of San Domenico, which rises in the Sagittario Valley, manages to enchant visitors thanks to its particular chromatic hue which in some hours of the day takes on an intense emerald green color.

Traveling along the panoramic SR 479 Sannite with its narrow curves and small tunnels dug into the mountain and which from Cocullo leads to Lake Scanno, one is struck by the color of this wonderful lake that seems to come out of nowhere right next to the road.

Often visitors who go to renowned locations such as Lake Scanno or the Abruzzo National Park, do not consider this stage in their intent but almost they always stop even if just to take some pictures because the desire to stop in front of such beauty is very strong.

To feed the flow of the lake of San Domenico, in addition to the Sagittario river, there is the Sega spring which flows into the lake a few meters after it emerges from the ground and sporadically also from the small course of karst water Prato Cardoso.


San Domenico Hermitage


Characteristics of the lake of San Domenico

The lake of San Domenico is an artificial reservoir formed due to the damming of the Sagittario river in 1929 and feeds a hydroelectric plant located 6 km further downstream, reached by a conduit mainly dug into the rock.

Following the construction of the dam, the old road and the old bridge were completely submerged by water and it is possible to see them resurface in lean periods.

This beautiful lake nestled in the Sagittario Valley is not very popular due to its narrow location and consequently lacks suitable structures and parking to accommodate a large number of visitors.


Lago San Domenico from above


The hermitage of San Domenico

The limited number of visitors, on the other hand, makes it possible to preserve an atmosphere of peace and tranquility around the lake that goes well with the presence of the hermitage of San Domenico, a small church that can be reached by crossing the bridge across the lake.

The hermitage is represented by a cave carved into the rock, a Romanesque church with a 19th century altar and an external portico on which the local artist Alfredo Gentile, has painted some representations that portray some scenes of daily life of San Domenico who lived in this hermitage around the year 1000.

After passing inside the hermitage, you can reach the only beach on the San Domenico lake, a place where you can relax and have a picnic in a very beautiful landscape.


Lake of San Domenico from drone


The Reserve of Lake San Domenico and Lake Pio

For trekking lovers, the Reserve of Lake San Domenico and Lake Pio offers several hiking trails that allow, after admiring breathtaking views of the lake and the Sagittario Valley, to reach the peaks of the surrounding mountains or Villalago village.

The small and charming village of Villalago is very characteristic for the distribution of houses along a staircase which runs through a large part of the little village.

At the foot of Villalago there is Lake Pio, an oasis of peace where you can relax on the grass and enjoy the silence, perhaps waiting for some bear to come to refresh in this small pond. Several times in fact some bears, recalled by the tranquility of this place, have gone as far as the village where they are considered welcome guests.


My impression about Lake of San Domenico:


The lake of San Domenico together with the Sagittario Valley is a magnificent place surrounded by nature where I love to go to seek some tranquility or even stop to take some photos if I am on the way to other destinations in the Abruzzo mountains. There is a shortage of parking spaces along the road so it may be difficult to find a place to stop and if you are lucky enough to find one, then take the opportunity to stay because it is really worth it.



Mustsee places near San Domenico Lake:

  • Lake Scanno (4,8 Km/3 mi)

Lake Scanno is defined as the most romantic lake in Abruzzo due to its particular heart shape

  • Villalago (2,4 Km/1,5 mi)

Villalago is a pretty village often frequented by bear friends

  • Scanno (8,2 Km/5,1 mi)

Scanno is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and it is not uncommon to meet a bear walking through its streets 



San Domenico Lake where to eat: