Sirente crater: a mystery hidden in the Italian Apennines
Deep in the mountains of Abruzzo, in the regional park of Sirente-Velino, lays a mysterious lake. It might be holding a key to one of the most important events in our history.
Many theories exist about this shallow seasonal lake: some say it is a man-made watering hole for the cattle, others that it is an old mud volcano. However, a number of scientists believe that it is an impact crater created by a meteorite, which hit the plain around the 4th century AD. Jens Ormo, a Swedish geologist, is convinced that it was quite a bang: local oral legends tell a story of a star that outshone the sun and hit the Sirente mountain with a huge force causing fire and an earthquake. He thinks that meteorite was the falling star that Roman emperor Constantine might have seen in the sky in 312 AD. Constantine interpreted it as a sign and converted to Christianity. The National Geographic made a documentary titled “Fireball of Christ” looking at the possibility of this event.
Despite such an exciting legend and the stunning backdrop of the snowy mountain peaks, the Sirente crater is off the beaten track. A small herd of cows from the nearby farm peacefully grazes near the lake most of the year. An occasional nature or mountain lover comes here to admire the views and tranquillity, ponder over the mysteries of the universe.