The leaves start to fall from the trees and the sun goes down earlier, the days are fresh but still enjoyable: the beginning of Autumn in Cembra valley is a wonderful period for enjoying the mountain in serenity and silence.
One of the destinations you have to see is Santo Lake, a little gem set in a forest of firs and beech trees, which are reflected in its light water, at 1200 meters of elevation. It is easily reachable by car, in about 10 minutes from Cembra. It is possible to park for free in the dedicated area next to Rifugio Ristorante Lago Santo. Being it a good place for swimming and being it surrounded by fields and beaches, Santo Lake is mainly popular during the summer. The walk around the lake (30 minutes) is accessible to everyone, young and adults, also with strollers.
If you like excursions, Santo Lake is excellent as a starting point. From here, with about 2,5 hours walk, it is possible to reach Rifugio Potzmauer at 1300 meters of elevation, a typical alpine place where you can try mountain food (openings depend on the season: check ?here?). The path from Santo Lake to the lodge starts from the parking lot next to the restaurant, following the Sentiero Europeo E5, in Cauria direction. The path, except the initial rise, is filled with light ups and downs. It doesn’t come with particular technical difficulties (difficulty E – hiking) so it’s enough to wear hiking boots, however, keep in mind that the path is 17 km long (roundtrip) and requires some physical resistance.
Santo Lake is charming, also during the winter, when the snow crystals clothe the trees and the water surfaces transforms into ice. The young people of Cembra used to play curling here, before the palacurling was built. If you visit the lake in winter don’t forget to bring traction cleats and “ciaspole” to hike in the snow.
While you have a walk around the lake, look carefully around, what’s missing? The lake has no inlet: it occupies a hollow that has been dug into the porphyry by the glacier and it is nourished by underground sources and rains.
It is said that the place where we find Santo Lake, is a land that was originally left as inheritance to three brothers. Being in disaccordance regarding the division of the propriety, the brothers started to fight. During the umpteenth quarrel, one of them said “Let it be flooded!”. Suddenly a spring arose from the ground. But the water continue to flow and the citizens of Cembra started to fear that the village would have been submerged. Being frightened, they gathered in the Assunta’s church and started a procession bringing the Madonna’s simulacrum. When they got to the land, which was already flooded, the priest took the ring of the stature and threw it into the spouting water. As if by magic, the source stopped and everyone was praising the miracle. From that moment the expanse of water is called Santo Lake.