laghi campi flegrei

The lakes of Campi Flegrei

In every respect, a rich and fertile land, the Campi Flegrei are no less so in terms of hydrography. The large quantity of water, due to the presence of the sea and the numerous aquifers, the large amount of water is an essential resource for the area. There are Phlegraean lakes: Lake Averno, Lake Lucrino, Lake Fusaro and Lake Miseno.

Lake Averno

Lake Averno

Undoubtedly, Lake Averno is best known, mentioned even by Homer and Virgil in their works. Of volcanic origin and elliptical, it is the second-largest of all the Phlegraean lakes. The name Averno, from the Greek άορνος, means “without birds“. It is located inside an extinct volcano formed about 4000 years ago. In all probability, the hydrogen sulphide and carbonic acid fumes from the crater, which have not yet been exhausted, have made the area unfriendly. For the Greeks and Romans, the lake was the entrance to the Underworld, Pluto’s kingdom. In the Aeneid, Virgil tells us of Aeneas’ descent into the Underworld guided by the Cumaean Sibyl to receive advice on where to found his new homeland. In Roman times, Lake Averno was part of the extraordinary infrastructure of the Portus Iulius, an imposing naval port dedicated to Octavian Agustus. The Roman port also included Lake Lucrino, to which Avernus was connected by a navigable canal and a series of underground tunnels designed according to ingenious military strategies. Today, a walk around the lake, surrounded by luxuriant nature and discovering extraordinary archaeological remains, is an experience not to be missed. The once wild landscape is now a natural oasis. You will also appreciate some of the most precious and fascinating testimonies of history, the Temple of Apollo (a majestic thermal complex from the imperial age) and the Antro della Sibilla (the Cave of the Sibyl). You will dive into an evocative atmosphere where history and myth combine perfectly.
Would you like to know more? You can read our article on Lake Averno!

Lake Lucrino

Lake Lucrino is the smallest of the four Phlegraean lakes. As you can imagine, it was not originally so small. It was separated from the Mediterranean by a long, narrow strip of land over which the Via Herculanea, the mythical road built by the Greek hero Hercules, passed. In 1538, it was reduced in size by an eruption that, in a single night, gave birth to Monte Nuovo. The event transformed the features of the landscape. Due to the cyclical phenomenon of bradyseism, Lake Lucrino was swallowed up by the sea for a while. The name derives from the Latin “lucrum“, which means profit, because of the lucrative fish and oyster farm created in the 1st century BC. Moreover, the lake was partially used as a Roman military settlement, of which, unfortunately, there are few traces left. It was incorporated with Lake Averno into the Portus Julius, now submerged.

 

Lake Miseno

Seen from above, Lake Miseno is divided from the sea by tufa rocks. Also known as Mare Morto (literally dead sea), it is an ancient volcanic crater invaded by seawater to which two mouths connect it. It offers a spectacular view of Bacoli and its hamlets along its shores. It owes its name to Misenus, the legendary companion of Ulysses mentioned in the Homeric poem. Virgil, in the Aeneid, later converted him into a heroic Trojan warrior following Aeneas. According to legend, the famous epic figure lost his life here and was buried at Cape Misenum. In Roman times, together with the immediately adjacent roadstead, it formed the port of Miseno. This was the location of the classis misenensis, an imposing Roman imperial fleet. Here, Nero probably killed his mother Agrippina, and Emperor Tiberius died on his return from Capri.

Lake Fusaro

Lake Fusaro, a coastal lake with a characteristic trapezoidal shape, is also known as Acherusio. The name originates from the fact that, in ancient times, it was identified with the infernal swamp formed by the legendary river Acheron, better known as Acherusia palus. On its banks, the Romans built many villas and spas. Later, in the Middle Ages, the lake became an infusarium: in other words, it was used to macerate hemp or linen. Hence the name Fusaro. In the 18th century, the area became a hunting and fishing reserve of the Bourbons. On a picturesque island in the lake’s centre, King Ferdinand IV had a delicate jewel of late Baroque architecture built and designed by Vanvitelli. This is the Casina Vanvitelliana, a Rococo-style building, which a characteristic little bridge connects to the mainland.

Would you like to know more? You can read our article on Lake Fusaro!

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