Tovel Lake is in the gorgeous Trentino region of northern Italy where the skies are blue and the water is bluer. Every season offers a different experience and an astounding array of colors from Mother Nature’s palette. Tovel sits at about 1,100 meters above sea level (3,800 feet) in the Adamello Brenta Natural Park and about 50 km north of the major city of Trento.
Why It’s Known as the “Red Lake”
If you do an internet search on Tovel, you’ll see a lot of hits about a “red lake” or “il lago rosso“. It’s true that in fairly recent history, the entire lake turned crimson due to an overgrowth of algae called tovellia sanguinea.
You won’t be able to get a glimpse of the amazing natural phenomenon anytime soon, however, and the reason is due to the fact that animals no longer graze on the shores. The last time the algae “bloomed” was in the summer of 1964, and since then, fewer and fewer animals have been leaving their phosphorus and nitrogen-rich droppings along the lakeshore.
Like with any strange natural occurrence, legends are born in order to explain them. Tovel’s legend tells of a princess named Tresenga who was famous for rejecting all of her suitors. The most persistent of them was Lavinto, king of Tuenno, who after being rejected numerous times, decided to send his army to attack Tresenga’s father’s army. A bloody battle supposedly took place on Tovel’s shores tinging the lake water ruby red and sadly, the princess was killed by Lavinto’s own sword.
The “Caribbean of Trentino”
But not to worry because even though you’ll miss out on seeing a flaming red lake, there is no shortage of color on lake Tovel. Depending on the sun’s position and time of year, the water ranges from turquoise blue to emerald green. The stunning combination of transparent water and white sand beaches gave it the name of the “Caribbean of Trentino”.
Trails and Enjoying Nature
Surrounded by the peaks of the Brenta Dolomites and a thick pine forest, it is the perfect place to be one with nature. In the summertime, visitors of all ages enjoy walks along the numerous trails, biking, picnics, and for the brave at heart, swimming (the water is cold year-round due to the high altitude). There is an easy walking trail that loops the entire lake and takes under 2 hours to complete and is wide enough for strollers.
Make sure to visit the visitor’s center or the Casa del Parco Lago Rosso along the shore which has an interesting display of photos and explanations about the biodiversity and red algae.
Don’t miss the fairly easy trail that branches off from the lake and leads to the Rislà waterfall. Depending on the season, of course, the amount of water varies, and many adventurers even make the trek in the dead of winter when the falls are frozen solid and suspended in air.
Tips For Your Visit
Keep in mind that the road leading to the lake is typically closed between the months of November and March. For a number of reasons, the summer is definitely the best time to visit. There is a convenient shuttle to the lake that leaves from the public parking lots in Tuenno and Cles. For more information on parking and the shuttle service, visit this helpful website.
The Adamello Brenta Natural Park website in English provides some good information as well as a link to download the official park app.
For your overnight stay, we recommend…