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Legends say that Lake Vico was created when Hercules thrust his club into the earth. When he removed it, a stream filled the depression with water creating the lake in the Lazio region of Italy. Lake Vico's actual birth is no less exciting than the legend. The lake formed about 100,000 years ago as a result of volcanic activity. The leftover crater filled with rainwater and water from underground springs. Lake Vico has long been a favorite with fishermen and wintering grounds for a variety of waterfowl. Today, visitors flock to the legendary lake to enjoy its fertile volcanic soil, lush forests and clear water.
Lake Vico is surrounded by the Cimini Hills, with a maximum depth of 158 feet and an average depth of 73 feet. It serves as a drinking water reservoir, so use of motor powered water craft is strictly prohibited. Sailboats, however, glide back and forth across the lake's sparkling surface, and canoes, kayaks and row boats are all welcome. Ringed with reeds and weed beds, Lake Vico is a productive fishery and anglers can expect to find abundant populations of pike, perch and eel.
Before the time of the Etruscans, Lake Vico's water levels were believed to be considerably higher. The Etruscans created a culvert that lowered the lake's level by approximately 66 feet, exposing rich volcanic soil and creating a large marshland area. The marshland on Lake Vico's northern shore attracts a diverse collection of waterfowl and provides the wintering grounds for the great crested grebe, mallard duck, gadwill and egret.
Lake Vico is in the center of the Riserva Naturale Lago di Vico, an almost 8,000-acre area designed to protect the lake's water and the forests and fields surrounding it. The reserve includes the swampy marsh and the oak and beech forest that sprawls across Mount Venere. The elevation and the northern side of the crater combine to make a climate able to support the beech forest, which is one of the southernmost of its kind in Europe. The reserve is managed by the City of Caprarola.
Tucked on the south side of Mount Cimini, Caprarola has a long, rich history. The Romans braved the thick forests that covered the area, fighting against the trees and the legends of mythical monsters attached to them. It was under the reign of Pope Paul III, however, that Caprarola experienced its full majesty. The Palazzo Farnese was created as a residence for Alessandro Farnese XVI, the nephew of Pope Paul III. The pentagonal fortress has becomes a visual symbol for the City of Caprarola. It surrounds a circular courtyard and houses incredible frescoes, including the Zodiac painted by Giovanni Antonio da Varese on the ceiling of the Map Room.
The hillsides around Caprarola and Lake Vico are covered with groves of sweet chestnuts and hazelnuts, the area's primary crop. Sheep farming is also prevalent on the hills. In addition to lakefront holiday villas, several of the area's farms operate bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. Lake Vico is a short drive to the north of Rome, and one of the area's holiday homes makes the perfect home base for a visit to the Eternal City.
The pastoral hillsides, lush forests and clean, clear fish-filled waters of Lake Vico draw visitors from Rome and across the world to enjoy the Lazio region. The rich history of Caprarola and the surrounding area set against the backdrop of the Cimini Hills ensure visitors a legendary Italian getaway.
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