Cycling the dams: enjoying the water, the wind and the sky

Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2019


The Castello dam in Piedmont is situated at the heart of the Monviso natural park, which is also home to the source of the Po River. Built in 1942 and situated 1,587 metres above sea level, the dam feeds the Castelfiorito hydroelectric power station:  here the water is forced through a conduit to turn two 15.5 MW Francis turbines. The route along the shore and up to the Colle dell’Agnello is one for the experts – 16 km with an average 10% gradient rising to an altitude of over 2700 metres.  A climb that has marked the history of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.

Castello dam -


On the Tuscan-Emilian border, the Paduli dam, also known as the Lagastrello dam, blocks the River Enza at its highest point, occupying the plain of the same name and situated approximately 1,145m above sea level. The dam, completed in 1911, feeds the Rimagna power station in the municipality of Monchio delle Corti in the province of Parma and is one of the hydroelectric plants situated on the fluvial trunk of the rivers Enza and Cedra, in the heart of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.

Paduli dam -

Santa Caterina

Also known as Lake Auronzo, this artificial reservoir was created in 1930 when the construction of the dam blocked the River Ansiei. It is located on the edge of the Tre Cime National Park in the Cadore area, on the road that leads to Misurina and Cortina d’Ampezzo. At the very end of the dam, which stands at over 800m above sea level, is a small chapel dating back to the 1500s and dedicated to St. Catherine, to whom the lake owes its name. The dam feeds the Pelos hydroelectric plant in the municipality of Vigo di Cadore which, along with the reservoir, has brought development opportunities to this area, in particular concerning water sports and tourist activities.

Santa Caterina dam -

Masseria Nicodemo

The Masseria Nicodemo dam can be found high up in the Sinni River valley where the river is joined by the Cogliandrino torrent, in the municipality of Lauria, province of Potenza. Built in the 1970’s, it produced an artificial reservoir known as Lake Cogliandrino. Thanks to a tunnel and a forced conduit that spans a height difference of over 580m, the dam feeds the Castrocucco power station, on the border between Basilicata and Calabria. The station provides energy for approximately 60,000 households and contributes to protecting the area’s natural habitat, between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pollino National Park.

Masseria Nicodemo dam -


In the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park at approximately 1,300m above sea level is the Campotosto reservoir:  covering a surface area of 1,400 hectares, it is the second largest in Europe and the largest in Abruzzo. Located in the Vomano River basin, the construction of three barriers (the dams of Sella Pedicate, Rio Fucino and Poggio Cancelli) artificially recreated the ancient glacial lake of Campotosto, traces of which had remained as marshes. The system of conduits leading from the lake span a height difference of about 1,200m and feed three hydroelectric power stations (Provvidenza, San Giacomo and Montorio) capable of producing over 530 GWh a year.

Campotosto dam -


The Enel Green Power wind farm in Pietragalla, Basilicata, is the first in Italy to be integrated with an energy storage system. It uses nine 2 MW wind turbines that provide a nominal total installed capacity of 18 MW. As with hydroelectric power stations, electricity is produced when a turbine is turned, in this case by the force of the wind, the speed, intensity and direction of which are constantly monitored by a weather station. This makes it possible to predict the daily output of energy, while the storage system, connected by underground cables to the wind turbines, can step in to compensate for potential discontinuity, given the intermittent nature of the wind as a source of energy, thereby also contributing to the stability of the electricity grid.

Pietragalla dam -

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