Reschensee (German), Lake Reschen (English/German), Lago di Resia (Italian): this lake has many names, but it’s a normal thing in the northern Italy’s region of Sudtyrol, where everything is commonly referred to in German but of course has an Italian name too.
Let’s call this Reschensee from now on, but keep in mind you may hear any of the 3 names mentioned above and they are all right and referring to the same thing!
Reschensee is an artificial lake located in the Vinschgau Valley, very close to the Austrian border: the Reschen Pass is just 2 km (1 mile) away from the lake, and Switzerland is just 3 km away.
Surface elevation is 1,498 meters (4,915 feet) above sea level. I know this is a pretty obvious thing to say, but when I got off the bus I was coming from another area of the Vinschgau Valley, 2 hours away and at a very much lower altitude, and the difference in temperature was huge. If you’re coming from lower altitudes too then pack your heavier jacket, scarf, and don’t forget sunscreen during the summer!
The story (and legend) of the steeple
I know you’re here to know all about this. The interesting part is that this beautiful steeple from the 14th century is submerged.
It would be very fascinating – and somewhat creepy – to know that a village is still there, as in a silent ghost town, but most unfortunately before the area was submerged by the construction of a dam in 1950 all houses and the church were demolished, to get the people out as they didn’t want to leave. Only the steeple was saved.
During the winter the water freezes and the steeple can be reached on foot. How cool is that? I was there last month and there was no ice or snow, but I so want to go back to walk to and touch the steeple!
A legend says that during winter one can still hear church bells ring. In reality the bells were removed from the tower on July 18, 1950, a week before the demolition of the church nave and the creation of the lake. (Wikipedia)
How to get there
- If you’re coming from Austria you can drive there – easy.
- Coming from Switzerland will need a detour to Austria anyway. There is only one pass and it’s the Reschen Pass on the Austrian border.
- If you’re coming from Italy you can of course drive, all the way from Bolzano-Bozen through the Vinschgau Valley, mostly on a straight and wide road. Only the last half an hour or so will be a bit winding.
Another way to arrive is with public transportation: there is a fantastic train that runs through the Vinschgau Valley (you can take it from Bolzano-Bozen or Meran). The last stop is Malles-Mals and from there you can take bus number 273 from just outside the train station. Get off in Graun-Curon (!), just after the St Valentin’s stop.
– Keep your eyes to the left side of the road, you will spot the steeple just a minute before having to get off!From the train station to Graun-Curon it will take about 25 minutes by bus and the cool thing is that when you check the train timetables you will find the arrival time at Malles-Mals and the first bus departure on the same page. Pure genius.
What to do in the area
There are too many options when it comes to outdoor activities in the area, but just to name a few:
- Cycling: the Via Claudia Augusta is very popular in the summer, and it’s possible to bike all the way to and from Meran.
- Mountaineering: the Alps offer endless options for hiking! The beautiful and pristine Vallelunga and Val Roja are very popular also during the winter (snowshoeing) reaching 3,000 meters (9,840+ feet) of altitude. Trekking on the Weißkugel Glacier (White Ball in English, Palla Bianca in Italian) is also possible.
- Skiing: Of course! And also cross-country skiing is possible.
- Kite Surfing: The strong winds are perfect for kite surfing in the summer, and this guy looked like he was having a lot of fun:
For me, the main reason why I decided to visit Reschensee was simply to take photos of the submerged steeple. This iconic landmark was about 2 hours away from where I was staying but I couldn’t leave the Vinschgau Valley without seeing it, and I was hoping to come back with some good shots too.
The weather was good even if freezing, but I didn’t have enough time to catch different light conditions. The best thing would have been to spend at least 1 night there and photograph both at sunrise and sunset (next time! Who’s in?).
Of course it’s impossible to resist taking photos of the submerged steeple: it is such a great subject! Plus the environment and the surroundings give the chance of getting creative.
Here are some of the shots I took. Enjoy!
The first glimpses:
…and in black and white:
Last but not least, the beautiful surroundings:
Who’s been to this incredible place? I would like to go back, who’s in?