Lonely Planet review for Lago d'Averno
In Virgil's Aeneid, it is from Lago d'Averno that Aeneas descends into the underworld. It's hard to imagine hell in such a soothing setting, with old vineyards and citrus groves lining this ancient crater. A popular walking track now circles the perimeter of the lake, located an easy 1km walk north of Lucrino train station.
The lake's name stems from the Greek work άορνος, meaning 'without birds', and according to legend, birds who flew over it would fall out of the sky. A likely explanation for this phenomenon was the release of poisonous volcanic gases from the lake's fumaroles. Yet, while it may have been unlucky for feathered critters, Lago d'Averno proved useful to Roman general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who in 37 BC linked it to nearby Lago Lucrino and the sea, turning hell's portal into a strategic naval dockyard. The battleships may have gone, but the lakeside ruins of the Tempio di Apollo (Temple of Apollo) remain. Built during the reign of Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, this thermal complex once boasted a domed roof almost the size of the Pantheon's in Rome. Alas, only four great arched windows survive.