Tucked away in a scenic valley at the foot of the Berici Hills just ten kilometers to the south of renaissance architect Andrea Palladio’s hometown of Vicenza lies the remnant lake of Lago di Fimon. Circled by a bike trail and footpath, locals flock here year round to enjoy nature only a short drive from their busy lives in the nearby city. Isolated by the hills on all sides from the incessant noise of civilization, the lake is a perfect place to unwind, a favorite spot for bird watching, and provides ample opportunity for exercise and rustic relaxation.
Previously filling the entire valley of Fimon, the lake is but a remnant of its former self. Boasting thousands of years of history, archeological excavations have unearthed evidence of Neolithic settlements, pottery, and weapons. During the time of the Venetian Empire, the lake was drained to make way for farm land. Susceptible to flooding and drainage issues, the entire valley was crisscrossed by an elaborately engineered system of canals which still exist to this day. The current lake, now only a fraction of its former size at 1700 meters long and 400 meters wide, is managed by a water control system and fed by streams and runoff from the surrounding hills.
A 4km bike and hike trail circles the lake, forming a loop and accessible via two parking areas. Picnic spots and park benches can be found at various points along the trail providing an opportunity to rest, or to simply soak in the natural ambiance. The trail is also a great spot for people watching! Interpretive markers have been erected in certain spots which provide detailed historical information about the area, while others explain the local flora and fauna. On the lake’s western shore, several rustic camp sites are available. Pole fishing is also quite popular. Water sports are limited however, as motorized boats are strictly prohibited in order to preserve the delicate ecology. Kayaking and rowing are possible, and a local sailing club offers lessons periodically on small boats.
Parking at the north end of the lake, an easy itinerary can be made that can take up a full afternoon and evening. Facing the lake, take the path to your left to begin your “giro del lago” or around the lake walk. The east shore is less developed at the waterfront, left to its natural state. Respectable homes line the road on the hillside above the path overlooking the lake. As the path continues, you come upon the sluice gate and canal that control the water level of the lake. Small clearings in the trees and reeds allow views across the water, and you will come upon the previously mentioned benches and a picnic area where you might want to take a rest on the grassy clearing.
As you work your way around to the west side, you’ll find another parking area, where in the warmer months of summer, and early fall, a local gelato stand will be set up selling tasty treats. Here you’ll also find a dock protruding over the water offering spectacular panoramas of the entire lake. Be on the lookout for ducks, geese and swans. At this point, the trail parallels the road protected by a wooden fence.
A bit further and you find the rustic café where you can enjoy an early evening spritz, or sip an espresso while you overlook the lake. Directly across the street is the pizzeria “Terrazza al Lago” where you can dine al fresco, and on select nights enjoy live music. From the pizzeria/café it’s only another 600 meters back to the parking area where your walk began, and your giro del lago is now complete.