Lake Vico (Italian Lago di Vico) is a volcanic lake in northern Lazio region, central Italy. It is the highest among major Italian lakes, with its altitude of 510 m. Administratively, it is part of the municipalities of Caprarola and Ronciglione.
The Lake is surrounded by the Cimini Hills, in particular by the Fogliano (965 m) and Venere (851 m) Mounts. It is part of the Natural Reserve of Lake Vico.
According to the legend, the lake awas created by Hercules, who had defied the local inhabitants to pick up his club. When he did it by himself, a stream sprung and formed the lake. The Lake is in fact a relic of the past volcanic activity of Lazio, originating some 100,000 years ago when an extinguished crater was filled by waters. Before the construction of a tunnel by the hand of Etruscans, the lake had probably a double surface than today, the Monte Venere contistuting an island within it.
The Lake has one emissary, the Rio Vicano.
It is famous for its extensive beech forest which is one of the most southerly in Europe. The elevation plus the surrounding walls of the crater apparently supply cool enough conditions for the continued survival of beeches here. A large part of the northern side of the crater is a natural preserve to protect this forest.
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