Scanno Lake in the Abruzzo Region of Central Italy

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Scanno, in the L’Aquila province of the Abruzzo region, is a delightful little village that has it all. Scanno is gaining notoriety because of booming tourism in Abruzzo in general, and due to the internet’s unveiling of secret spots over the years.

Holding the prestigious title of one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”, this little gem of a village is nestled in the Central Apennines in the Sagittario Valley. At an elevation of over 1,000 meters, Scanno enjoys tourism all year round with its 15 km of ski slopes and its famous “Pistone” run that descends from Monte Rotondo at over 1,800 m to 1,250 m.

Summertime in Scanno

Summertime in Scanno is also magical. With average daytime temperatures hovering around a pleasant 25 C and evenings cooling to around 10 C, it’s the perfect climate for those of us that aren’t fond of sweating it out at the beach. Its once somewhat illusive lake has now been immortalized in photos as a backdrop for thousands of selfies. Scanno Lake‘s most striking feature is, of course, its unique heart shape. Rich in fish, fauna, and wildlife, its greenish hue is due to seaweed and the reflecting vegetation from the surrounding mountains.

Visitors can enjoy a perfect lake vacation here with various water sports, trekking routes and mountain biking. Paddle boats and canoes as well as umbrellas and lounge chairs are available at the spiaggetta or beach. There is also a bar serving up refreshments and sandwiches for your hike or for your picnic on the lake shore or under the shade of the trees. You’ll want to have proper shoes because the “sand” tends to be rocky.

There are numerous hiking trails ranging in difficulty from easy to advanced, but one you definitely won’t want to miss is the sentiero del cuore or the “heart trail”. It is only about a mile and fairly easy and when you reach the top you’ll be able to appreciate Scanno Lake’s natural heart shape and snap pictures. You can walk around the entire lake in about an hour or drive if you prefer. Parking is available and inexpensive. Just remember that visitors are flocking to the area in the peak summer months of July and August so don’t expect to find a “private” lake in total silence during these months.


The Village

The village itself is fascinating. You can wind through its alleys and under its arches appreciating the amazing architecture. Stop at the cafes and taste the traditional, local dessert pan dell’orso and savor homemade pastas and cheeses. The chairlifts can be taken year-round for breathtaking views of the lake and valley. Every twist and turn is a photo-op. You’ll surely encounter some of Scanno’s women dressed in traditional costume that is not only unique to Italy, but also to the entire region of Abruzzo. Its origins are subject to debate since Scanno had numerous foreign invaders over the centuries that could have influenced its dress. Most agree that the headpiece, and even the customs, probably have Muslim roots and that Scanno’s remote location contributed to the costume remaining virtually unchanged.


The internationally acclaimed photographers Mario Giacomelli and Renzo Tortelli captured images of Scanno in the 1950s that could have just as easily been taken today. Giacomelli said about Scanno:

“Scanno reminded me of a fairy tale village, full of sun, with black silhouettes. I tried to burn the details out to erase everything that may have been documentary-like, because I thought I could find more poetry in it. I never considered doing realism with Scanno […] but only things, even not exceptional ones, that could reflect my personal mood at the moment.”

While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Gorges of Sagittario (Gole del Sagittario) nature reserve. You can take a tour of the breathtaking gorges carved out by the Sagittario River year-round, and daily in the months of July and August.

Read more about the spectacular province of l’Aquila!


1 thought on “Scanno Lake in the Abruzzo Region of Central Italy”

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