Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lago di Nemi

On Sunday, after getting sandwiches in the town of Genzano, we drove over the hill to Lake Nemi for a picnic. It is a 400 acre volcanic lake about 30 km south of Rome and named for the town of Nemi that overlooks it from the top of a hill.
We were sitting on the opposite side from where George Inness painted this picture in 1872, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

As we were driving to our picnic spot I was surprised to see a Naval Museum on the shore of this relatively small lake. I want to go back and visit the museum to discover more about the sunken Roman ships that were found in Lake Nemi. These ships were built by the Emperor Caligula in the 1st century AD. One of his ships was designed as a temple, dedicated to Diana. Another was basically a floating palace with marble, mosaic floors, and even plumbing for Roman baths. Mussolini had the ships pulled out of the lake (1927-1932) and after nineteen centuries the hulls were mostly intact. Tragically, the ships were destroyed by artillery fire in World War II.
A photo of one of the hulls taken before World War II.

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