Fodor's Expert Review Lago d'Averno
Regarded by the ancients as the doorway to the Underworld, the fabled lake was well known by the time the great poet Virgil settled here to write the Aeneid. Forested hills rise on three sides of the lake, and the menacing cone of Monte Nuovo looms on the fourth. Its name comes from the Greek Aornos ("without birds," Avernus in Latin). The water is "black," the smell of sulfur sometimes hangs over the landscape, and blocked-off passages lead into long-abandoned caves into which Virgil might well have ventured. Not far away is the spring that was thought to flow directly from the River Styx. It was there that Aeneas descended into the Underworld with the guidance of the Cumaean Sibyl, as famously recounted in the Aeneid.