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Lago di Doberdò

The karst lake that appears and disappears

About this place

Doberdò del Lago, in the province of Gorizia, is home to the Doberdò and Pietrarossa Lakes nature reserve. The reserve is a unique ecological niche, where dry environments, such as heaths and thickets, wet environments, such as grasslands and reeds, and karst features, with surface karst phenomena and caves, alternate. In this pristine setting is the “Lake that appears and disappears,” Lake Doberdò, which, together with nearby Lake Pietrarossa, represents the only karst lake in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The lake’s appellation derives from the fact that its water volume depends on karst phenomena; consequently, it is usually full in spring and autumn, dried up in summer and winter.

Why visit it


Unique karst lake in fvg

Lake Doberdò, with its younger brother Lake Pietrarossa, is the only example of a karst lake in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Its uniqueness, for which it is the subject of various research, is that its waters flow into and out of it through resurgences and underground cavities.


In the nature reserve

The nature reserve is a masterpiece of biodiversity. The arid karst environment here has a moist heart: there are marshy areas with reeds and aquatic flora. This unique combination creates suitable habitat for different species, some very rare.


Interesting routes

The lake can be seen from several vantage points. The trails vary in length and difficulty, from the easiest 30 minutes to the most challenging 4 hours. These include two loop routes, one short and one long.

The scenic trail of the castellieri

Starting from the Gradina visitor center, CAI trails 78 and 77 allow you to follow the Castellieri Trail, a challenging hike in terms of elevation gain but very scenic. Along the way, several sites of historical interest are encountered, such as the remains of the ancient Castellazzo Castle and the Cadorna House, the site of an Italian observatory during World War I. Through tunnels, galleries and emplacements, one discovers beautiful panoramic views overlooking the lake. The trail has a marked slope in places, facilitated by steps and steel cable, and a slightly exposed spot.

Doberdò nature reserve

Those looking for an unspoiled place, where the passage of man has left no indelible marks, can visit the Doberdò and Pietrarossa Lakes Nature Reserve, with total respect for this unspoiled environment. The 627-hectare area delimits a unique ecological niche in which the lake’s marsh environments are surrounded by the typical karst landscape formed by heaths and drylands. From the Pietrarossa Lake Visitor Center or the Gradina Lake Visitor Center, several trails, both looped and un-looped, lead to the lake or to walks in the lush nature.

Where to park

The reserve can only be visited on foot. Lake Doberdò is visible from the many viewpoints encountered by making one of the possible hikes in the reserve. The main excursions start from the Gravina Visitor Center, just outside the village of Doberdò, where you can leave your car. Alternatively, you can park at the Pietrarossa Lake Visitor Center or at the “Al lago” ristopub.

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