The Fireball of Christ in Abruzzo

This seasonal lake located in a plain of the Sirente masiff in the Sirente-Velino regional parkAbruzzo is certainly off-the-beaten track. Spring is the best time to admire it as it is full of rain water reflecting the blue sky and the grass around it is green. In summer the lake looks more like a large dirty puddle. Although nature and mountain lovers visit this place, you won’t see crowds of tourists and only few know that the shallow lake is somewhat of a mystery.

The Sirente crater, as the lake known, was the subject of heated discussions in the scientific world some years ago. A number of scientists believe that it is an impact crater created by a meteorite that hit the plain around the 4th century. They link their theory to the story of Roman emperor Constantine, who was believed to have seen a large falling star in the sky in 312 AD that he interpreted as a sign and converted to Christianity. Local oral legends also tell a story of a star that outshone the sun and hit the Sirente mountain with a huge force causing fire and an earthquake. The National Geographic made a documentary titled “Fireball of Christ” looking at the possibility of this event.

sirente crater abruzzo

However, other, less impressive suggestions exist regarding the origin of the Sirente crater: it could be a man-made watering hole for the cattle or an old mud volcano.

When we arrived to the lake last weekend a herd of cows was basking in the sun a few metres from the water. The surrounding mountains were still covered in snow, the birds screamed their sun salutation hymns and the trees stood with their buds ready to burst into leaves any day. A perfect setting for a peaceful day and contemplation about mysteries of the universe…

sirente crater abruzzo

How to get there: follow signs to Secinaro. About 13km after the village you will see the mountains on your left hanging over a small valley with the lake. There are BBQs and a picnic table by the road. You can stop there and walk on a path parallel to the main road towards the lake.

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