Diving among the Capodacqua ruins of the submerged mills

Discover the hidden gem of Lake Capodacqua in Abruzzo, Italy. This artificial reservoir, created in the 1960s, conceals two submerged mills and other historic structures, offering a unique diving experience. Nestled in Gran Sasso Park, the lake boasts crystal-clear waters and vibrant wildlife. Dive with an authorized guide to explore this surreal underwater landscape, rich in history and natural beauty. After your dive, indulge in Abruzzo’s hearty local cuisine and embrace the region’s charming, laid-back lifestyle. Lake Capodacqua is a must-visit destination for any passionate diver.

In the remote Tirino Valley in Abruzzo – Italy, a few kilometers beneath the gaze of Capestrano Castle, lies the enchanting Lake Capodacqua. This artificial reservoir, unbeknownst to many passersby, conceals two submerged mills and other man-made structures built decades ago. This unique feature attracts divers from around the globe, and it was this allure that led us to embark on a new diving adventure, taking advantage of a long holiday weekend to traverse half of our country.

Lake Capodacqua

The fashinating history of Lake Capodacqua

The history of Lake Capodacqua is straightforward: in the 1960s, this reservoir was created to serve as a water reserve for the surrounding lands. Originally, the area was home to several mills and other structures, which were subsequently submerged when the valley was flooded to create the lake. Today, the lake is fed by several natural springs that provide a continuous flow of fresh water, maintaining its remarkable clarity. This pristine water then flows downstream to form the Tirino River, supporting a diverse ecosystem both within the lake and along the river’s path.
The submerged mills, a testament to the area’s industrial past, now rest quietly beneath the surface, offering a unique underwater landscape for divers to explore. These structures, along with tree trunks and remnants of old roads, create an almost surreal underwater environment that captures the imagination and provides a window into the past.
The mills were originally used for grinding grain and other agricultural purposes. These watermills harnessed the power of the flowing streams in the valley to turn their millstones, which processed wheat, corn, and other grains into flour. This flour was essential for the local communities, supporting the production of bread and other staple foods. The mills were integral to the agricultural economy of the region, providing a critical service to the surrounding rural areas.

While we could regale you with tales of legends and anecdotes, it’s not mystery but the unique scenario that makes diving in this lake so fascinating. Set in the splendid natural environment of the Gran Sasso Park, the lake boasts always crystal-clear water that offers excellent visibility. The submerged mills, combined with the breathtaking natural surroundings, make this a truly special place. The area is teeming with colorful wildlife and is only occasionally disturbed by the passage of a few cars and agricultural vehicles.

Embracing the beauty of Abruzzo, savoring local italian food and lifestyle

Beyond the diving adventures, Abruzzo is a region of remarkable beauty and charm. The rolling hills, lush forests, and majestic mountains of Gran Sasso National Park offer a stunning backdrop for any outdoor activity. The region is rich in history, with medieval castles, quaint villages, and vibrant cultural traditions that captivate visitors.

No visit to Abruzzo would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. The region is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, from arrosticini (skewers of lamb) to pasta alla chitarra (a type of egg pasta) topped with rich, savory sauces. Local cheeses, such as pecorino and scamorza, pair perfectly with Abruzzo’s renowned Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. The emphasis on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients ensures every meal is a culinary delight.

Abruzzo’s lifestyle is characterized by a slower pace, where locals take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Whether it’s sharing a meal with family and friends, taking a leisurely stroll through picturesque villages, or enjoying the region’s natural beauty, the Abruzzese way of life is warm, welcoming, and deeply connected to the land.

Diving in the lake Capodacqua

Diving here requires an authorized guide, as the lake is privately owned and under environmental protection. The logistics are conveniently managed by a local Diving Center. Given that the water temperature doesn’t reach 10°C, dry suits are mandatory, although the less cold-sensitive might choose otherwise.
Entry into the water is made easy by a platform, from which our tour among mills, tree trunks, and submerged roads begins.
The first mill bears the brunt of age and is almost entirely destroyed, while the second is better preserved and rises nearly to the surface from the lake bed. The recent earthquake affected this area of Abruzzo, and the submerged ruins were only partially spared.
Between the two mills, we gently fin through other structures, trees, and algae inhabited by trout, a few other fish, tiny shrimps, and other microorganisms.
The visibility in these crystal-clear waters is astounding. Even though summer is not the optimal time, the visibility is comparable to the external view, likely better than an ordinary day in the smog of a big city.

dive in lake Capodacqua

Tips for a memorable dive in lake Capodacqua

This is a simple dive for all levels, but it requires good buoyancy control to avoid stirring up the bottom and disturbing the ruins, which are prohibited from being touched or crossed. The maximum depth reached was 7 meters, with an average dive duration of 40 minutes.

  • Preparation: ensure your diving gear is in excellent condition and double-check that your dry suit fits properly to stay warm in the cold water.
  • Guided tours: always dive with an authorized guide who knows the area well and can navigate the underwater structures safely.
  • Buoyancy control: practice maintaining good buoyancy control to avoid disturbing the lake bed and the delicate submerged ruins.
  • Respect the environment: follow all guidelines and regulations to protect the pristine environment and historical structures of Lake Capodacqua.

Exploring the submerged mills of Lake Capodacqua is more than just a dive; it’s a journey through history, nature, and the serene beauty of Abruzzo. Whether you’re an experienced diver or new to the sport, this unique destination promises an adventure you won’t soon forget.

As a passionate diver, I can say that Lake Capodacqua offers a unique and unforgettable diving experience. The combination of history, natural beauty, and crystal-clear waters makes it a must-visit for any diving enthusiast.

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