This volcanic crater lake presents visitors with beautiful views of its clear water and surrounding forests. The picturesque towns along the shores serve as popular summer resort areas for Romans, including Castel Gandolfo, home to the summer papal palace whose gardens were recently opened to the public. On the other side of the lake is Palazzolo, a villa bought by Rome’s Venerable English College in 1920 and now open to guests. The towns surrounding the lake are known for their restaurants, shops and fruit farms. Swimming, fishing and boating are among the favourite activities for visitors, and the lake’s beach is located on the western shore. A simple 45-minute train ride from Termini, visitors can reach Lago Albano by taking the FL4 train towards Albano Laziale and getting off at the Castel Gandolfo stop.
Lago di Bolsena
Located on the site of the Vulsini volcano, dormant since about 100 BC, this crater lake has two islands and is surrounded by rolling hills and vegetation. The area around Montefisascone on the southeast shore of the lake is famous for its Est! Est!! Est!!! wine. The town of Bolsena in the northeast is a popular tourist resort in summer and it is here that the famous so-called Eucharistic Miracle took place in 1263 when a Bohemian priest is said to have seen blood coming from the host that he had just consecrated at Mass. Capodimonte on the southwest of the lake is also worth a visit . The lakeside area provides activities for sports and nature enthusiasts all year round. The best way to reach Lago di Bolsena from Rome is by car, as buses to Bolsena from Termini Station are infrequent.
Lago di Bracciano
One of the cleanest lakes in Italy, Lago di Bracciano acts as an important drinking water reservoir for Rome. The ban on motor boats (except for a little ferry) means it remains an ideal spot for swimming, sailing and canoeing. The Lega Navale operates a dinghy sailing school in Anguillara. Churches and historic sites are located in the three small towns around the lake: Bracciano, Trevignano and Anguillara. There are also places for camping and horse riding tours by the lake, which is just an hour on the Viterbo train line from Rome’s Ostiense station. The lake is overlooked by the 15th-century Orsini-Odescalchi castle in Bracciano, often chosen as the venue for jet-set weddings, and there is also an air force museum at nearby Vigna di Valle.
Lago di Martignano
This tiny volcanic lake just to the east of Lake Bracciano offers clean water and beaches with scenic views of the surrounding meadows and wildlife. Lago di Martignano is known for its outdoor activities such as horse riding, hiking, mountain biking and swimming. Umbrellas, loungers and luggage storage are available to rent along with canoes, sailboats and windsurfing equipment. It is also known for the hot sulphurous springs surrounding the lake. Arriving at Lago di Martignano by car is the easiest option. Reaching the lake by public transport involves taking the FM3 train to Cesano and opting for either a local bus or taxi.
Lago di Nemi
Lago di Nemi is a small and unique volcanic lake where divers in the 19th century discovered two large ships built for the notorious Roman emperor Caligula at the bottom of the lake, filled with artworks and treasures. Replicas of the ships along with other artefacts are on display at the nearby Museum of Roman Ships. Travellers can also visit the natural caves around the lake, which were a favourite haunt of 19th-century foreign artists such as Turner. Nemi is associated with the cult of the Roman goddess Diana, and, for the last 80 years, an annual strawberry festival. Visitors can reach the lake by taking the SS7 Appia southbound as far as Genzano, and then following signs for Nemi.
Formed by the volcanic activity of Mount Venus, Lago di Vico offers a unique geological backdrop set amid lush woodland and hills. The surrounding nature reserve is a haven for wildlife, but what is most characteristic of the area are the hazel and chestnut plantations. Lakeside campsites and hotels offer swimming, sailing and horse riding. The two towns worth a visit are Ronciglione and Caprarola with its magnificent and recently restored Villa Farnese. Lago di Vico is a 90-minute drive from Rome taking the SS2 Cassia, and turning north at Sutri.