The history of the sunken bridges in the lake of Santa Giustina dates far back, when the heart of the Val di Non valley was not yet covered by the waters of the lake. Instead, there were steep slopes, streams, gorges and mule tracks leading from one side to the other across venturesome bridges.
Ancient roads and bridges that can no longer be seen today as they have been completely submerged in the lake. However, at certain times of the year they reappear bathed in the light of the sun to reveal their magical charm.
This usually happens in spring, when the water level of the reservoir is lowered for maintenance work. At this very moment, it is possible to take a trip back in time - back to the Val di Non of the 1940s, before the imposing dam was built: woods, mule tracks, farms and vineyards enthroned almost heroically the steep slopes of the valley floor. Today, instead of the slopes, you can see the rocky shores of the lake.
At this time of the year, the three historical bridges, that have withstood the pressure of the water all these years, appear.
The Regai Bridge
The first bridge to emerge is the Regai Bridge, which was built in the mid-19th century in order to connect the villages of Revò and Sanzeno. It led across a deep gorge that still separates the two villages. To this day, it is a broad and solid bridge in excellent condition. It is also the easiest bridge to photograph, as it can be easily approached from the beach "Plaze di Dermulo".
The "Ponte Alto" Bridge
Then there is the "Ponte Alto" bridge (= high bridge). It is the most difficult to spot, as it only appears when the lake is almost empty - which is very rare. This bridge is located to the north of the dam and derives its name from a gorge of up to 100 metres in height, whose flanks had to be connected. Built by the Romans, it was used unaltered until the end of the 8th century. Then the iron bridge was built, whose construction was of utmost value as it was located at the closest point between the two sides of the valley. You can therefore imagine its importance for both the vales’ inhabitants and numerous merchants who regularly travelled through the valleys of the Trentino!
The "Ponte dela Mula" Bridge
The bridge known as "Pont dela Mula" (= Bridge of the mule) is and remains the most famous of the bridges. It is also the oldest and most impressive amongst the three. Situated above the stream of Rio San Romedio, it was built with a characteristic stone arch that has withstood all these centuries. The Pont dela Mula bridge also owes its fame to the legend that surrounds it: It is said that the Baron of Cles fled on the back of a female donkey to escape the angry crowd of peasants who were chasing him. As the baron rushed through his lands, he was eventually trapped by the gorge of the Rio San Romedio stream. The mule, frightened by the yells of the peasants, dared to take an extraordinary leap that carried both of them to the other side of the gorge. Legend has it that the baron himself ordered the construction of the bridge in honour of the animal that once saved his life.
The sunken bridges of the Val di Non valley offer a spectacular sight that can only be marvelled at for a few days a year and should be seen at least once in a lifetime!