The scarlet waters of Lake Tovel

What colour is the water of the lake? You will immediately answer “Blue.”! Or turquoise, or perhaps light green, but I bet you would never say “red”. Yet in Trentino, until a few years ago, there was a lake whose waters turned as red as ripe strawberries when it was very hot in summer. We are talking about Lake Tovel (Lago di Tovel), in the heart of the Parco Naturale Adamello Brenta.

Nobody knew why the lake took on the strange colour, but the old folk of Val di Non know a story that dates back centuries, when in Trentino there were still a king, brave knights and warrior princesses. At that time, in Val Rendena there was the small kingdom of Ragoli, ruled by a wise but very old king who had no sons, only one daughter, Princess Tresenga. When the king died and the young princess inherited the kingdom, becoming queen, many princes and kings came to Ragoli to ask for her hand in marriage, but no suitor managed to win Tresenga’s heart.

Legends of the Dolomites: the red lake

"The two armies clashed along the shores of Lake Tovel. It was a fight to the finish"

Among the rejected suitors there was also Lavinto, king of Tuenno. Proud and arrogant, Lavinto could not accept the fact that he had been rejected and he continued to woo Queen Tresenga, as he was convinced that he would manage to make her change her mind. However, neither the queen, nor the people of Ragoli, wanted this marriage so, at the umpteenth refusal, Lavinto lost his patience and, together with his army, marched against the small kingdom.

The people of Ragoli loved their queen and took up arms to fight against the invading army. Tresenga herself wielded a sword and drove her men against the enemy. The two armies clashed along the shores of Lake Tovel. It was a fight to the finish. Lavinto’s cruel, battle-hardened soldiers had the better of the queen’s army. Tresenga herself was killed and fell on the shores of lake. Her blood seeped into the waters of the lake and from that day on it became red, to remind everyone of the brave woman’s sacrifice. Some say that Tresenga’s ghost still lingers along the lake shores and that, on full-moon nights, she weeps for the sad fate of her people.

Published on 06/06/2023