On the eastern shore of Lake Averno, you see the ruins of a large Roman building dated to the second century AD; it is a curtain about 20 meters high facing out over the dark waters that mark the entrance to the kingdom of the dead. Popular tradition has always seen in those ruins a temple dedicated to the cult of Apollo, but as early as 1826 Lorenzo Palatino in his “History of Puzzuoli and Environs” called it a thermal bath complex. That was confirmed by Amedeo Maiuri (1886-1963), considered a great among experts on the Flegrean Fields, “...Popular as well as later humanist tradition, which had associated Lake Averno with the Grotto of the Sibyl, had to associate this site with the deity and presumed to see him in the imposing structure at the edge of the still, dark waters of the lake. It is really what is left of a large thermal complex that must have had its source in a nearby thermal mineral spring...” Amedeo Maiuri – I Campi Flegrei (from Virgil's Tomb to the Grotto of Cuma). Rome, 1963.
During our frequent outings along the shores of the lake we have often stopped to admire and photograph these remains of the past; because of the state of decay of the site, however, the ruins are surrounded by a large fence. Our desire to get some photos other than the classic ones led us to look for a way to get in to the base of the imposing wall, itself. It didn't take long...after a short distance there's a break in the fence filled in by spontaneous vegetation, which itself has a few free spots where you can get through. You just had to push through a few brambles “et voilà"...you pass beneath an arch and you're in the center of the enormous semicircle defined by the wall.
Hugging the base of the wall in the central part, an ample passage leads to a space at the rear. It's sort of a curved corridor with high arched ceilings, along which there are circular wells; the corridor is then blocked by walls of opus reticolatum broken by strips of terra cotta brick. The ample floor is marked by fragmented rock that that seem to indicate ancient cave-ins and there is a tunnel at the base of one of the walls the shows the presence of chambers further on.
p.s. The diameter of the dome is about 38 meters...only five meters fewer than the one at the Pantheon. That makes it one of the large thermal bath complexes of the imperial age.
Site type: Roman ruins
City: Lake Averno - Lucrino (NA)
Coordinates: N40° 50' 21.0" E14° 04' 55.2"
address: Via del Lago – right bank
photos: Temple of Apollo – Lake Averno
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