Just a ‘stone’s throw’ from well-known towns such as Pienza and Montepulciano, and close to the borders with Umbria, the small lake of Chiusi sits in a basin between hills, and permits visitors a peek into its tranquil world. If you happen to be in the area, it is definitely worth stopping by. If you’re a bit of a naturalist, here is an unspoilt, protected lake with as much ‘natural goings-on’ as you would hope to find. If you’re there at the right time, you may spot various forms of aquatic life from the wooden jetties: carps, eels, perches or tenches as well as a surprise, as I myself had. I was fortunate enough to witness a snake slide into the water to snatch a fish, and hastily retreat back to its shelter under an upturned boat at the water’s edge.
Fishing is allowed with a daily, weekly or annual licence. Have a look at www.lenzaetrusca.it or ask your nearest Tourist Information Office for more information. There is plenty of wild fowl too, some taking time out from paddling and wandering around whilst others patrol the lake in small groups. Close your eyes, listen and have a go at guessing whether the calls you hear are from herons, moorhens, coots, ducks or geese.
If wildlife is not entirely ‘your cup of tea’, try relaxing by the lakeside having a picnic. There are sheltered areas, as well as tables with seating and room for sunbathing, even an area available for volleyball or badminton. Yet it is still calm. Should you have not felt like putting a picnic together, there are two small lakeside restaurants, both with menus including fish from the lake. One very popular example is ‘Brustico’ or barbecued fish, the recipe originated in ancient times. It has been discovered that, way back during the Etruscan period, the fishermen naturally took advantage of the lakes supply of fish, which they would then place onto a grid above very hot embers on top a bed of reeds to cook it: the ancient and original mode of barbecuing. The burnt skin was carefully removed as well as bones and entrails and the deliciously cooked flesh seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, a little lemon juice or vinegar, salt and pepper.
You may notice near the parking area, a sign directing you to ‘Il Sentiero Della Bonifica’. For those enjoying cycling or light walking, this is an enjoyable route running from the nearest town of Chiusi, that riches the Lago di Chiusi and various other points of interest, all the way up as far as Arezzo.
For more, in depth information on ‘Il Sentiero Della Bonifica’ try www.vivichiancianoterme.it or contact your nearest Tourist Information point. You may have questioned the title ‘Light Of The Moon’? (Or Moonlight). It is said that this is the name local people gave the lake a very long time ago, as they believed that Noctiluca, the beautiful goddess of the sky, used to admire, at night, her beauty reflected in the lake’s calm waters. But that’s not all: if you’re lucky, on the evening of the 3rd of July you may witness a streak of golden light appearing over the lake’s water. The ancient local residents thought it was a sign of the presence of Mustiola, niece of Emperor Claudius. She had been imprisoned by her uncle for converting to Christianity, until she managed to escape. Pursued by soldiers, she reached the lake and threw her cloak onto the water and was mysteriously carried away to safety by it.
Should you visit this most charming place, you’ll agree it’s a place where one could sit and meditate away from traffic and the general busyness of our everyday lives. The lake is easily reached (around 8 kilometres) from the Chiusi/Chianciano junction of the main A1 autostrada. Follow the signs for Chiusi, where eventually you will find at the second left road turning there are two brown signs, directing you towards the lake and Etruscan tombs. Just keep following the directions until you approach the first road entrance to the lake.
The first road turning is Via del Lago, the second a little further on is Via Sbarchino: a stony connecting road in between them will offer plenty of parking. Each entrance has its own lakeside area. Lastly, in respect of the Etruscan tombs, refer to the article about National Archaeological Museum in Chiusi, Tuscany, where you will find plenty of information about how to reach the tombs and visit them.