3 curious legends about the lakes in Piedmont
Piedmont is known for its centuries-old winemaking tradition: tours through the vineyards and hills of Monferrato, a UNESCO World Heritage area, is one of the most popular destinations for world tourism. But there is another part of Piedmont that will leave you spellbound by its beauty!
I am not the supreme judge of this, although I have all the qualifications to be one, and yet, there are so many lakes and ponds in our Piedmont that we have won the podium as the region with the most lakes! Alpine lakes set in beautiful landscapes and large lakes that hide curious legends are the destinations you must visit to treat yourself to a trip away from the stress of the cities and dive into crystal-clear waters in the midst of wild nature.
LAKE OF ANTRONA
We find ourselves in the unspoilt nature of the Ossola Valley, in the province of Verbania, where salami is still prepared according to the ancient art of “a fa sù”. We set off from the small village of Antronapiana: surrounded by pine and larch woods, we walk towards Lake Antrona.
The circular route – consisting of small bridges, underground tunnels and suspended Tibetan footbridges – immediately brings to mind the terrible landslide of 27 July 1642 that buried an entire village and its inhabitants. The damming of the existing river gave rise to a lake, later renamed Lake Antrona.
For more than two centuries, it has been said that at night the submerged village resumes its life where it left off and you can even hear the bells of the old church. Our friend Elia from Apicoltura Rossi (Rossi Beekeeping) told us that as a child he loved to watch the bustle of people in secret. In fact, when he decided to devote himself to honey production, he treasured the trade secrets of the villagers and the old-fashioned way of making honey that has now been lost.
His Valle Antrona honey is part of the Lake Province Honey Consortium precisely because of the combination of modern techniques and craftsmanship that respect the life cycle of the bees. Such careful and precise production can only be deliberately restricted to ensure the right level of quality.
The scents of this honey are of thyme, maple, dandelion, clover and countless other species on which the bees feed. A slice of warm bread with Lago Antrona honey can be your ally to calm you down on bad days and combat lack of appetite and arthritis.
LAKE OF VIVERONE
From the mountains we move towards the hills in the area between Canavese and Biellese to visit Lake Viverone: the third largest lake in Piedmont and promoted by the Regional Association for Environmental Protection as fully swimmable. Starting from Azeglio, we reach the reconstruction of the pile-dwelling village according to its past appearance. This feat of rebuilding the village of San Martino was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2011.
Continuing along the dirt roads of the Via Francigena through woods, cornfields and vineyards, legends tell the story of a ghostly maiden who wanders around the lake in search of her beloved, who was swallowed up along with the village of San Martino. The village, which really existed, was famous for its lack of hospitality towards the needy, so an angel in the form of a beggar was sent to test them. Unfortunately, they didn’t make a good impression and a terrible storm came from the sky and flooded the village and the poor boy.
Christian Massara and his vitamin C-rich lemon acacia honey come to the aid of the girl in her exhausting search for lost love. Christian makes products cultivated directly in the Valsesia region and harvested at the height of their maturity, following ancient traditional recipes combined with fragrances and spices.
Acacia honey and the fresh, acidic flavour of lemon has all the requirements to be your secret source of good health. Try it also as a cake filling or combined with mature cheeses for an explosion of flavour not to be missed!
After hidden villages and ghostly maidens, you can’t miss the gnomes and fairies! I’m taking you to Val Quarazza to reach an emerald-green pool surrounded by wooden sculptures of dwarfs. But who are these cute little men? In the nearby Guia Mine, the gnomes, called “Gut Viarghini” in the local dialect, are apparently still extracting gold and precious stones at night from the now-abandoned quarry to give to the fairies in exchange for jam, of which they are particularly greedy.
Don’t believe in gnomes? Then try opening a jar of Monastero Germagno apple and walnut jam to see them to the rescue. In fact, this jam is their favourite! Made with natural and selected ingredients to which no pectin is added and a limited quantity of sugar to guarantee an excellent quality while preserving all the flavour of the raw material.
The Germagno Monastery is made up of 9 monks who alternate moments of prayer with the production of creams and jams. The work is not only aimed at keeping the community alive but is a tool for human and spiritual growth. Made with seasonal fruit, from the most classic to the most unusual combinations.
– Until next time, With love!