If you are looking for a holiday far from the hustle and bustle of city life, the area just outside Viterbo is the perfect destination to enjoy a relaxing time. A few miles South of the main city of the Tuscia area, there is Lake Vico: one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, surrounded by a stunning landscape. Lake Vico has a volcanic origin and this explains its particular, round shape. Being 500 metres above sea level makes it also the highest one among the so called Italian “Big Lakes”.
According to legend, one day Hercules stuck his cudgel into the ground and dared the local population to pull it out. Nobody succeeded and when Hercules removed it himself, a great jet of water came out of that hole and filled the entire valley, thus creating Lake Vico. The actual origin of the lake is linked to the activity of the Vico volcano: about 100.000 years ago it stopped erupting and – over time – its caldera got filled with water – both rain and water coming from the underground springs – and it eventually became the lake we now know. From the many viewpoints that you find along the road that winds around the old crater, you can still admire the original morphology of the Vico volcano, alternating green woods and plain valleys, now almost entirely dedicated to the cultivation of the famous hazelnuts of the Cimini Mountains.
In order to preserve the beauty of this area, in 1982 the government of the Lazio region created the Natural Reserve of Lake Vico: it currently spans an area of 4.000 hectares with an altitude that ranges from 505 to 963 metres above sea level. Of this vast area, the lake – with a perimeter of 18 Km – occupies more than 1.200 hectares. The Reserve includes all the territories under the administrative jurisdiction of the municipalities of Caprarola and Ronciglione, two towns close to the lake.
A good starting point to explore this beautiful area is the Balletti Park Hotel: situated in San Martino al Cimino, its strategic position – combined with the high quality of the services offered – will not fail to satisfy even the most demanding guests looking for an unforgettable holiday.
Lake Vico Natural Reserve: discover a magic place
This reserve was one of the first to be included in the Sistema dei Parchi e delle Riserve Naturali della Regione Lazio, a network of parks and natural reserves ruled and protected by the Lazio region. A visit to the Lake Vico Natural Reserve will let you immerse yourself in nature: silence is king here, the only sounds that you will hear are the ones made by the animals that populate the area and by the streaming water.
The rich biodiversity of the local fauna makes the Reserve the ideal place for nature lovers and, in particular, for those who enjoy birdwatching. Heading North West from the lake, there is a trail called Pantanacce that passes through a large swamp where many different species of birds winter and nest: great crested grebes, coots, mallards and white herons are only a few of the aquatic birds that you can find here. Climbing back towards the hills that surround the lake, with a bit of luck and a good dose of patience, it is not rare to spot other beautiful species: peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks, owls and also foxes, wild boars and badgers, just to name a few.
The woods surrounding the lake are rich with many different varieties of trees such as beeches, maples, oaks, chestnuts and hazels. Their ever changing colours provide a spectacular show in every season: this is why your visit to the Lake Vico Natural Reserve is going to be magical at any time of the year. Get ready to be amazed!