13th September 2015
Madonna di Campiglio - walking the Cinque Laghi path
For good walkers one of the most popular walks in Madonna di Campiglio is the Cinque Laghi or Five Lakes walk. It has several different routes one of which starts at the top of a cabin lift, the Cinque Laghi cabin lift. The views from the top of this lift are stunning and it is worth taking a few minutes to enjoy them while sipping a coffee at the restaurant perched on the peak. Behind that restaurant an easy path leads to the first lake on the walk, Lago Ritorto. As it nears the lake it runs parallel to a stream that tumbles down the mountain taking water from the lake down to the valley where it will join other streams flowing down the slopes to form the Sarca River that flows into the northern end of Lake Garda.
The walking in this region, Trentino, part of Northern Italy, is excellent with a wide variety of well-defined paths and tracks. Lago Ritorto is a popular picnic place for visitors in the summer although when they get there they may have to jostle for space at the water’s edge with a herd of cows brought up from the valley to enjoy the grass in the alpine meadows.
So many times I have walked to this lake and then taken the path back down to the valley. I would watch the colourful dots that are people ascending the path to the ridge above the lake on their way to the second lake. Today I had decided I would do the whole walk. As I approached the ridge I looked back to enjoy the lovely panorama of Lago Ritorto below me.
As I began to traverse the ridge at the top I briefly glimpsed by objective, Lago Nambino, the fifth and final lake.
Further along this path I stopped to look back at the path I had followed and I had a clear view of the ridge I had just walked along.
I could not linger too long as I knew the whole walk should take about six hours. I followed the narrow path that hugged the side of the mountain for an hour before I reached the second lake, Lago Lambin.
After Lago Lambin the path become much rockier and in some places there was no path just a pile of rocks. It was an exhilerating challenge and I was glad of the slight breeze that took the heat out of my exertions. It was not long before I could see the third lake but it took a while to get there.
When I did arrive there I sat for a while to enjoy the peace and beauty of the lake before walking half way round it.
From this lake it is a steep, rocky descent to the much smaller Lago Nero. The path is very well-marked so it was easy to find my way – all the paths in this area are clearly marked with red and white splashes on rocks or trees.
Just after this lake I reached the tree line and plunged into a forest from which I did not emerge until I reached the final lake, Lago Nambino, over an hour later.
I had reached my objective with time to spare so I relaxed on a bench by the calm green water. Legend tells that once a monster lived in these waters feeding on small fish and algae in the water. Occasionally, when no one was around it would emerge from the lake and graze on the grass around it.
Then one day a strange and terrifying event occurred and the monster came out of the water and killed a sheep, a goat and the shepherdess looking after them. Local inhabitants were afraid to go near the lake until the mystery had been solved. Two hunters from the nearby Val di Sole offered to rid the lake of its monster – for a price. On the appointed day a procession from the village, led by the local priest, wound its way up the mountain. As the crowd remained at a safe distance the two hunters moved closer to the lake. The older of the two told his young companion to wait while he went closer. When his senior did not return the young man moved closer and found the monster lying dead on a rock and the hunter collapsed beside him. Noxious fumes were coming out of the body. The young man was able to pull his companion away from the body and he was carried back to the town and the local hospital. The young hunter later returned to the lake and when he approached the body of the monster he found a large dragon’s egg had emerged from between the back legs. The egg and the skin of the animal were later displayed in the church and great celebrations were held in the village. Meanwhile the older hunter recovered and he and his companion collected their reward. This story is related on beautiful panels inside the Rifugio Lago Nambino beside the lake.
There was only a short distance to go to get down to the road and car park where the hotel shuttle bus could pick me up. I could have walked all the back but I decided to keep that walk for another day. Right now I was looking forward to cake and fruit juice that I knew would be waiting for returning walkers in the reception area of my hotel, the fabulous Hotel Lorenzetti