Nemi may be small, but it has a long and fascinating history. In Roman times it was an important sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Diana: it drew thousands of pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire. In the 1930s the Italian government drained the lake to recover two magnificent ceremonial ships, loaded with sculptures, bronzes, and art treasures, that were submerged for 2,000 years.
The Museo delle Navi Romani, on the lakeshore, was built to house the ships, but they were burned during World War II. Inside are scale models and finds from the sanctuary and the area nearby. There's also a colossal statue of the infamous Roman Emperor Caligula, who had the ships built. Italian police snatched it just in time from tomb robbers as they were about to smuggle it out of the country.