Lago Sirino

Useful Information

Location: Lucano Val d'Agri Lagonegrese Apennine Park, Lucanian Apennines. Off the SS19.
(40.0924, 15.8088)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstDoline
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=247 m, W=165 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Lago Sirino, Strada Statale 19 delle Calabrie, Nemoli, Tel: +39-0
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Lago Sirino (Lake Sirino) is a beautiful, almost circular lake, surrounded by hills. If you walk around the lake, you will not find an substantial inflow or outflow. In the southern end is an outflow which seems to be artificial, probably built to make sure the lake does not flood the nearby houses after heavy rains. And that's actually the origin of the water in the lake: rain. There is no river flowing through the lake, as would be normal for a lake. The reason is simply, this is not a lake formed by a river, its a collapsed cave which produced a depression, and this depression later filled with rainwater. This is actually a doline with a layer of clay which makes it impermeable for the water. Such sealed sinkholes are not at all uncommon.

Located at the foot of Mount Sirino, this lake was once part of an Pleistocene-era lake which filled the entire length of the valley where the River Noce now flows. At the end of the last ice age the melting water from the mountain was abundant, and the valley actually less deep. Since then the lake has vanished and the river has eroded the valley, and the small Lago Sirino is the only remains of this era.

The rocks Triassic limestone, which are karstified, and Jurassic siliceous schists. Karstification still continues and lately another collapse in the lake opened a new shaft which connects to the karst below. As a result the water was flowing out of the lake and the water level has started lowering. Its not possible to predict the future development, such shafts might open a permanent connection which may drain the lake completely, but its also possible that the sediments in the lake will block the shaft and the lake will return to its former level.

Once there was a farm where the lake is now. On a holiday dedicated to Our Lady of Sirino, some farmers decided to work instead of dedicating the day to their families and to pray. The sky darkened more and more until a strong storm broke loose. The rain flooded the farm and killed the farmers and the animals. When the wind blows between the mountains, you can still hear the desperate howling of the oxen and the cries of the farmers.