Nemi town council says archaeological treasures were burned by Nazis.
Nemi, a small lakeside town near Rome, is demanding compensation from Germany for the destruction of the remains of two ancient Roman ships by Nazi forces during world war two, reports Italian news agency ANSA.
The archaeological remains, built under the reign of Caligula in the first century AD and recovered from the bed of Lake Nemi between 1928 and 1932, were destroyed by fire in 1944.
Nemi town council says the enormous ships, which had been hidden 18 metres below the lake surface for centuries before being housed in a museum, were "burned intentionally" by retreating Nazi troops.
"That irreparable damage to an archaeological asset was not the result of an unpredictable action of conflict but of a conscious act of destruction" - said town mayor Alberto Bertucci - "That is why we are asking for damages."
The purpose of the ships, one larger than the other, remains the source of speculation, with the larger vessel believed to have been an elaborate floating palace, which contained marble, mosaic floors, heating, plumbing and baths.
The recovered sunken ships were housed in a purpose-built museum which was inaugurated in 1936 and was largely destroyed by fire on the night of 31 May 1944.
View on Map
Italian town seeks damages for Nazi destruction of Caligula's ships
00040 Nemi, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy