You can’t really say you are from Le Marche if you have never hiked to the famous Lago di Pilato (Pilato’s Lake). Actually, if you want to sound even more marchigiano, you should definitely call it “Pilato’s LakeS”. Indeed, this natural lake, located at 1940mt asl, presents itself sometimes as two lakes, connected only by a small stream.
It may be the legend behind its name, or the fact that here, and only here, you can find the Chirocephalus marchesonii, a species of fairy shrimps, but the Pilato’s Lake has been attracting hikers from all over Italy, and even beyond. Fancy to be part of them, as well? Just follow our instructions, and be prepared to do a demanding hike (especially in Summer, when the sun can be really, really hot). The roundtrip lasts about 6 hours, 3h 30 mins on the way up, and 2h30 mins on the way down. Do not go outside the recommended period (from May to October), as the avalanches are very common there. The difference in altitude is of about 900mt (you start at 1000 mt. asl and arrive at 1940 mt asl).
The whole hike is located inside the National Park of Sibillini Mountains, and it stretches only in our region, although Umbria is just at a stone’s throw away. The main protagonist is absolutely the lake, which is the only natural lake in Le Marche, and one of the few glacial lakes in the Apennined. It has a glacial origin, and it was formed by the remaining moraines during the Ice age.
The size and shape of the lake depends on the yearly rainfall: it is filled both by the rain water and the melting snow. The small shrimp leaving there (can be up to 10 mm), can be seen by naked eye, but we must be very careful when approaching the water. This shrimp, indeed, spawns next to the lake’s shore, and it can be easily damaged by distracted humans walking on their eggs.
The legend has it that Pontius Pilate’s body ended in his lake. After the death sentence by Tiberius, his corpse was put in a sack and send on a wagon across the mountains. After a long journey, it fell down from the wagon, and was never found again. There is another legend telling about the Pilato’s Lake, also called Sybil Lake (Sybil is where the the name of the Mountains around comes from), that was thought to be the entrance of the underworld. In the Musuem at Montemonaco, there is a dark stone where engraved mysterious letters tell this exact story. The stone was found next to the lake.
But how do you get to the Lake? Here is the tour description!
You can park your car in the municipality of Foce di Montemonaco, just outside 4 kms outside the village. From there you follow the gravel road (there is only one), and you walk passing by some camping sites. After about 1,5 kms, you enter the road leading to the Lake, and the “climbing” begins. The road has hairpin bends, and it is very steep and unstable. It is indeed affected by many avalanches in the Winter that vary the shape and the characteristics of the path. Be careful, and bring hiking sticks to help you out on the way out! Also, do not forget to bring water with you! There are few places in which you can refill your bottle.
At the top of the steep path, an open, green and wide valley is right in front of you. From there, the path is much easier and after about 30 minutes you reach the Lake.
The view is simply amazing, and remember to respect the landscape, and the nature that you can find all around you. For example, you can easily find the edelweiss during this hike, but please, remember that in Italy it is not allowed to pick them up. Try simply to benefit from its stunning beauty and take a picture of it 🙂
There are also other 2 alternative paths leading to the Pilato’s Lake: they are much easier and they start from Castelluccio di Norcia, in Umbria.