Excursion between the lakes of Calabria

Discovering the lakes in Calabria, an excursion by boat, bike or on horseback
CS-San Giovanni in Fiore-Lorica-Lago Arvo-Sila-Montagna 2[Infofly]

© Regione Calabria

Sport and nature

Among the lesser-known but certainly more fascinating tourist experiences for nature lovers, excursions to Calabria's lakes represent a unique way of getting in touch with the environment and practising an active holiday, under the banner of fun and sustainability.

There are six main lakes in Calabria, but among the woods of the reserves and regional parks there are dozens of medium and small reservoirs that are perfect for a trip out of town. Calabria's lakes - each with their own characteristics and attractions along the shores (villages, agritourisms, educational farms, cycle paths, etc.) - are perfect for outdoor sports, wildlife observation or simple picnics with friends.

Let's discover together the main lakes in Calabria and the activities they offer to nature lovers.

Lakes of Calabria in the Cosenza side of Sila

Our lake tour in Calabria starts from the most important lakes in the Sila National Park on the Cosenza side.

Among the main lakes of Calabria, Lake Arvo occupies the large natural basin at the foot of Mount Botte Donato. Surrounded by a forest of larch pines, around which open meadows of wild flowers, it covers a total area of 24 km, all of which can be covered in a ring circuit on foot, by bicycle or on horseback.

Lake Arvo falls within the municipal territory of San Giovanni in Fiore, in the well-known hamlet of Lorica, one of the main ski resorts in Calabria. Rowing competitions and bike boat activities are practised on its surface. The latter is an enthralling experience within everyone's reach: literally, it means "floating bike" and allows you to navigate Lake Arvo in the saddle of a special "two-wheeler" that glides on the water, mounted on special floats. The more daring can experience the thrill of the "zip-line", the only one in Italy to cross the entire surface of a lake with a 600-metre steel cable.

Lago Arvo
Regione Calabria

We remain in the Cosenza side of Sila, but in the municipality of Spezzano della Sila, where we come across Lake Cecita, one of the lakes of Calabria that has yielded evidence of some prehistoric species. 

At Campo San Lorenzo, along the banks of the Cecita River, the remains of an Elephas antiquus, a species of prehistoric elephant whose presence makes this area particularly fascinating. In the past, the area has already yielded traces of Neanderthal Man and, during a shoal of the lake, the large molar and 3-metre-long tusks of the ancient pachyderm that inhabited Europe 700,000 years ago. The discovery is linked to the presence of a striking monolith known as the Elephant of Campana.

A valuable archaeological and naturalistic niche among the lakes in Calabria, Lake Cecita lends itself to sports fishing, with national competitions organised by FIPSAS, and wildlife observation.

Lago Cecita
Regione Calabria

The third Sila lake in the province of Cosenza is Lake Ariamacina, which falls within the territories of Spezzano della Sila, Longobucco and Celico.

Lake Ariamacina is a paradise for birdwatchers (the first sighting station in southern Italy): it represents one of the few nesting sites of the Great Crested Grebe and is a Legambiente Naturalistic Oasis, a fundamental site for the protection of migratory birds.

We conclude our tour of Calabria's lakes in the province of Cosenza with a trip to Lake Tarsia, which falls partly in the municipality of the same name and partly in the municipality of Santa Sofia d'Epiro, among the ethnic-linguistic minority Arbëreshë towns. 

The Tarsia Nature Reserve is one of the region's protected nature areas, rich in some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the Mediterranean. A lakeside excursion offers the beauty of shores and hills covered in Mediterranean scrub (holm oak, elm, tamarisk and strawberry tree) and inhabited by grey herons, cranes, mallards, moorhens, kites and marsh harriers. The respective municipalities offer two Visitor Centres not to be missed to get a closer look at the characteristics of this splendid green oasis.

Tarsia Lago
Regione Calabria

Between the Sila lakes on the Catanzaro and Crotonese side

The trip to the lakes of Calabria continues in the Catanzaro side of Sila, discovering Lake Ampollino, a lake basin on the natural border between Sila Grande and Sila Piccola, i.e. between the provinces of Catanzaro and Crotone (in the municipalities of Taverna, Sorbo San Basile, Zagarise and Cotronei, respectively).

Three of the most important and evocative mountain tourist villages in the region develop around its shores: Trepidò, Villaggio Mancuso and Villaggio Palumbo (the latter is the main ski resort in the Crotone area), all three of which should be visited with an overnight stay, to enjoy a regenerating experience, suspended in time and in the relaxation of unspoilt nature. 

Set between the ridges of the Scorciavuoi, Zingomarro, Gariglione and Montenero mountains, Lake Ampollino is a true natural jewel, suitable for both summer and winter tourism.

Among its coniferous forests, the landscape balances sport and relaxation: for example, a section of the Parks Cycle Route passes through here. Lovers of art and cultural events cannot miss a visit to the MABOS - Sila Forest Art Museum and the Visitor Centres around which, every summer, important nature and literary festivals are concentrated.

Lago Ampollino
Regione Calabria

The lakes of Serre and Aspromonte

We conclude our excursion to the lakes of Calabria in the province of Vibo Valentia and Reggio Calabria, in the Serre Regional Park and the Aspromonte National Park respectively.

The first basin we explore is Lake Angitola, a WWF Oasis in the municipalities of Maierato and Monterosso Calabro, one of the most evocative landscape areas in this area.

Among the lakes in Calabria, the WWF Oasis Lago Angitola is an uncontaminated area, where simple enthusiasts as well as more experienced nature connoisseurs can try their hand at observing a great variety of plant and animal species. It is also a fairytale place for children. Chestnut, larch and Aleppo pine forests grow around the lake; among the most popular animal species are the grey heron, but also pheasants, peacocks, tits and the extremely rare Black Woodpecker.

Kalabria Coast to Coast
Kalabria Coast to Coast

Our excursion among the lakes of Calabria ends with a small jewel set among the peaks of Aspromonte, in the municipality of Santo Stefano d'Aspromonte, in the splendid tourist and ski resort of Gambarie.

This is Lake Costantino, named after the ancient Monastery of San Costantino (10th century) that stands nearby. Born as a natural dam after the overflow of the Bonamico torrent, over time the basin has increasingly taken on the characteristics of a real lake, with small beaches and lake fauna. A naturalistic sight dear to the local communities and tourists, who frequent it for a refreshing swim or a trek along its shores.


Last update: Apr 2, 2024 10:08 AM