Why Lake Tovel used to turn red?

Lake Tovel is located at 1178 m above sea level in Trentino Alto-Adige, near the Dolomits mountains. Precisely, this site is located in the territory of the municipality of Ville d’Anaunia in Val di Non, in the province of Trento. Until about the 1980s, one very curious thing occurred: the surface of the lake turned red. Italian Traditions explains to you why Lake Tovel used to turn red in the past.

why Lake Tovel used to turn red
Photo by: mbhiker

Where is the Lake Tovel?

The surface of the lake reflects the mountain range of the Brenta Dolomites that lie in the background. The lake extends from the village of Tuenno for 17 km between the Peller to the west and the massif of the Campa to the east, until reaching the impressive massif of the Brenta Dolomites that surrounds the valley. The area is within the Adamello Brenta Natural Park. This is the region’s most extensive protected area and was established in 1967. The lake in the past was also called by the name of Bear Lake. The reason is that there are some brown bears in the valley that populate the territory of the natural park.

Why Lake Tovel used to turn red?

Lake Tovel was also called the Red Lake for the color of its waters. The name was due to the presence of an alga, the Tovellia sanguinea, which in summer, with the increase in temperatures, caused the redness of its waters. This happened every year until 1964, while more lightly and occasionally until 1983. Some studies have established that the disappearance of the phenomenon of reddening is due to the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus coming from the transhumance of the herds of cattle that grazed in the near the lake. These substances, flowing into the lake, contributed significantly to the flowering of Tovellia sanguinea. Since the sixties, the change in the management of animals and the almost total disappearance of the flocks that stayed in the high pastures have led to a decrease in the contribution of this organic load and therefore the cessation of the phenomenon of algae bloom.

The legend of Lake Tovel

There is more: an ancient local legend says that there was a princess named Tresenga in the area. This was the last daughter of Ragoli and was asked in marriage by many suitors, but she refused any offer. One day, the King of Tuenno, who couldn’t resign himself to the rejection, began the battle that took place on the banks of the lake and saw the inhabitants of Ragoli succumb to the fire of the soldiers of Tuenno. The princess was killed by the king and the lake at the end of the day was red with blood. This is why Lake Tovel used to turn red: it did that in memory of the princess’s courage.

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