Walking around Lago di Nemi

Situated between the two villages of Genzano and Nemi, this small volcanic lake has its own mythological, historical and archeological treasures.

But it’s for the panoramas, the peace of the surrounding woods and a swim in its clear waters I visit on a weekly basis.  The paved road circulating the lake makes for an easy stroll, while passing farms, taking in views of the lake and the lush green surrounding woods. Drink in fresh, potable sparkling mineral water at the fountain along the route.


For more of a challenge, one can walk from the town of Genzano to the town of Nemi by ascending and descending nature paths through woods and roads to reach the towns from the lake, taking in spectacular views of the lake from the towns above, and the two towns perched on top the crater from lake level.


In warmer weather the lake is perfect for swimming;  the water is clear, fresh and clean, as it is believed a natural spring provides a constant flow of fresh water.  

There are two beaches; one grassy found behind the restaurant La Fiocina and one rocky beach on the other side of the lake where the asphalt road ends.  


The grassy beach found behind La Fiocina is larger, flatter and easier to access than the other found at the other side of the lake. There are plenty of trees that provide shade and a few picnic tables. It's quite nice, just be attentive of some poop- I believe more from wild animals rather than dogs and careless owners. La Fiocina also provides sandwiches and drinks to take away. 


The beach found on the other side a the end of the asphalt road is a bit uneven and narrow to make a full sunning day out of it.  However, I often head here, as the entrance to the water is wider. This beach is right off the road, but is difficult to reach for the elderly and those with walking difficulties.  


With both beaches, the water's bottom is rocky, not mucky, when entering. Once in the water, there is a shallow ledge that extends approximately 2 meters, before dropping off to much deeper water (up to 33 meters). Occasionally I see more experienced swimmers swim from the beach to the other side of the lake with a swim bubble.

 In the summer the beaches have a bohemian feel, partly due to the wild nature of the surroundings and the spartan organization. 


The lake is known for hosting Caligula's Roman ships (which were burned in the Second World War ) and the archeological exhibits that can be viewed in the Museo delle Navi Romane. The lake’s name originates from Nemus Dianae (the holy woods of Diana) and near its shores are the remains of a temple to the goddess.  The Temple is not generally not open to the public, you need a certified guide/scheduled guide to enter.

Lake Nemi even provides a good restaurant and pizzeria, La Fiocina (Via delle Navi di Tiberio, 9, Nemi,  tel. 06/9391120) . Excellent homemade pasta dishes, a patio with charming views and a local wine list all made for a romantic lunch I had with my husband.  

There are quite a few ways to explore and arrive to the lake, these are routes I often take:

By Car from Genzano  di Roma:  From Piazza Dante Alighieri, take via Diana down towards the lake. Parking is available once you arrive at the base level, near the museum of Navi Romane and La Fiocina restaurant. 

To park at the rocky beach, continue driving around the lake until the end of the road, approximately 3km. Do not take via Perino; it is a rocky path, with broken asphalt not suitable for the average car. Usually via Perino is blocked off  from automobile traffic.

From Genzano di Roma by foot:

- From Piazza Dante Alighieri, walk down via Diana. Stay to the right of the road, as pedestrians have to share the road with drivers, but positives include great panoramas and walking on a piece of ancient Roman road on your decent.  Walking from Piazza Dante to the beach is approximately 4.5 km.

-You can either return the way you came or continue following the dirt path found at beach parking lot, ascending into Genzano on via Perino.  Once back in Genzano, wind your way up through Genzano vecchio to arrive at Palazzo Sforzo-Cesarini  and back to Piazza Dante. Total distance 8Km

From Nemi by foot:  From the Terrazzo degli innamorati, head down via del Tempio di Diana and after 500m the trail begins on the left. Follow the trail descending down through the woods. Once at the lake, you can turn left to head towards the beach, or right to go to the museum. You can arrive by car from Nemi, but be forewarned apart from Covid car restrictions on weekends, this road is winding, narrow and long, quite the adventure!

Article First Published: June 15, 2020
Article Last Updated:  February 2, 2021

Before you go, check out my article on Lake Albano, the larger lake in the Castelli Romani. 

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