From history to legend... The monster of the lake

Many years ago in Angera, in a little house not far from the lake, a fisherman lived with his wife and children. One morning after days and days of rain, a beautiful sun had finally come out and one of the children asked his mother for permission to go to the lake with his little sister. "No, children, you cannot go," said the mother. "You know it's dangerous to be on the shore." In fact, at that time, a giant serpent lived in the lake where the water was deeper, and from time to time, after reaching the shore wrapped in a black cloud, he would blow his hot breath onto children and devour them in a single bite. But that day there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the horizon was so clear that the brother and sister convinced their mother to let them to cross the oak grove to play by the shore. The lake shone under the breath of winter and the water was so clear they could see silver fish flickering in and out of the weeds at the bottom of the lake. The children were so intent on watching them that they did not notice a big, black cloud advancing towards them, until it blocked the sun. A cold shiver passed through the air that made the children look up. A tongue of flame flashed out of the cloud. The boy shouted to his little sister, "Oh no! It's the dragon. Run!"


He took her by the hand and they ran back towards the grove together. But the monster of the lake, which had now reached the shore, began to blow its hot breath on them. Sheltering behind the trunk of a large oak tree, the two children, trembling with fear, feeling the leaves crackle with the terrible heat, while burning branches fell all around, illuminating the darkness for a moment. Soon, even the oak would have been incinerated by the flames that came whistling from the nostrils of the dragon. Suddenly there was a clattering of hooves, and then the helmets and shields of a group of armed men shone in the glow of the flames. A knight was leading them as he galloped forward with his sword drawn. It was Uberto Visconti, the bravest warrior of the time. Uberto rushed toward the dragon and disappeared into the darkness. The noise of the battle came from the lake with the sword clanging as it hit the scales of the snake, and the sound of the monster splashing around responding with hissing and thumps from its tail. Then came a big cracking sound and silence followed. "Little brother," said the girl who kept her eyes closed with fright "You look. I’m much too afraid.”

"Open your eyes, little sister," the boy shouted exultantly, "The sun is back!"

And in fact the sky was clear again and the sun shone on the helmet and the sword of Uberto, who came out victorious from the lake. From that day the snake appeared on the Visconti weapons and the children of Angera could return to play safely on the shore of the lake.

(from L’albero del tempo [The Tree of Time], 2003 Edition)