Lake Nemi, Lazio, Italy

Lake Locations:

Italy - Lazio -

Also known as:  Lago di Nemi

As small and sweet as the wild strawberries that crowd its hillsides, 410-acre Lake Nemi is a hidden jewel tucked away in the Alban Hills. Treasured for thousands of years and revered as sacred, it is a little lake with a big history. Today the Lazio region lake, known as Lago di Nemi in Italian, draws visitors from Rome and across the world to enjoy its clean water and fertile hillsides.

Lake Nemi is a volcanic lake fed primarily by rainwater and underground springs. It is the wintering site for a variety of waterfowl including the double-crested cormorant, tufted duck and water nightingale. Whitefish, kingfish and pike can all be found in the lake, and fishermen have been fishing the lake for millennia. In fact, the area’s fishermen may be responsible for discovering one of Lake Nemi’s most important treasures.

The lake was the site of two sunken Roman ships built by the Emperor Caligula. Occasionally fishermen would snag something beside fish in their nets, finding treasures from the deep. It wasn’t until the Renaissance, however, that an earnest effort began to discover what was at the bottom of Lake Nemi. Under the patronage of Cardinal Colonna, Leon Battista Alberti brought swimmers from Genoa and used a floating platform to try to winch up the sunken ships. He was only able to bring up fragments and pieces of lead pipe. The next attempt was made in 1535 by Francesco De Marchi who may be responsible for the first diving suit.

It was almost 300 years before another serious attempt was made to recover the Nemi Ships during which time they suffered damage from scavengers and decay. During the 1800’s, pieces of the ships including mosaic flooring, terra cotta pipe and bronze animal heads were brought to the surface, but the ships themselves couldn’t be raised. In 1895 after the re-discovery of the second ship, Felice Barnabe, the Director General of the Italian Department of Antiquity and Fine Art, confirmed the authenticity of the two ships but stopped the recovery attempts.

It was decided after the Italian Navy surveyed the ships that damage from decay and pillaging had made them too fragile to raise. Instead, the decision was made to lower water levels on Lake Nemi to expose the ships. After much deliberation and decades of waiting, it was decided that a Pre-Roman tunnel could be used to carry the water as it was pumped out of the lake. Over the next few years water levels on the lake dropped almost 66 feet, slowly exposing what was left of the two ships. Possibly ceremonial, the ships were amazingly ornate with indoor plumbing, copper clad roof tiles and a variety of sculpture. They were designed to be used only on Lake Nemi. After thousands of years underwater, what was left of the ships was preserved and moved to a museum where unfortunately they were destroyed by fire just a few years later during World War II. Today, plans to reconstruct the ships are underway.

The Nemi Ships aren’t the only treasures at Lake Nemi. The lake and the village of Nemi on its shore are part of the Castelli Romani, a group of villages in the hills near Rome. Nemi is entirely within the Parco Naturale Castelli Romani. Established in 1984, the 22,506-acre regional park includes oak and chestnut groves, plus flowers, strawberries and mushrooms that grow in the region’s rich volcanic soil. Nemi is the smallest and considered by some to be the most unspoiled of all the Castelli Romani villages.

Lake Nemi is 19 miles south of Rome, making it an easy day trip to the Eternal City. There are a variety of holiday villas around the lake, and accommodations include farm holidays and vacation rentals. Visitors to the lake can spend the morning mushroom hunting or berry picking depending on the season, or exploring the area’s rich history and temple ruins. Dinner of fresh fish with the region’s crisp white wine served at a lakeside restaurant is the perfect end to the day. With its beautiful water, fertile soils and lush forest clad hillsides, Lake Nemi is a sparkling Italian gem.

Things to do at Lake Nemi

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Hunting
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lake Nemi

  • Pike
  • Whitefish

Lake Nemi Photo Gallery

Lake Nemi Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 410 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,066 feet

Maximum Depth: 108 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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