Pozzo del Diavolo

Useful Information

Location: Caprarola, 01032.
40-minute walk from the picnic area near Fontana Canale.
(42.3436, 12.1798)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologylava tube
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=40 m, VR=10 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Pozzo del Diavolo, Caprarola, 01032, Tel: +39-0
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1970s archaeological excavation.
1982 Riserva Naturale del Lago di Vico created.


Pozzo del Diavolo (Devil’s Well) is the only known volcanic cave in Lazio, and according to legend was created by Hercules. There is no legend about the devil though, so it is unclear where the name comes from. The cave is located on the southern slopes of Monte Venere (835 m asl), right below the summit, and above the Lago di Vico.

The Lago di Vico is one of the highest (510 m asl), and best preserved, volcanic lakes in Italy. It formed from rain water inside a caldera which is 140,000 years old, it has thus no inflow. It is naturally drained by Rio Vicano, which flows through a ravine on the eastern side of Ronciglione. Inside the caldera is Monte Venere, a stratovolcano, which formed later inside the caldera, so it was originally an island. The Etruscans or the Romans drained the lake to create new agricultural land. In Roman times the lake was called lacus Ciminius, that's why it is until today also called Lago Cimino.

The cave is rather small, has more or less a single chamber, in which archaeological remains from the 5th and 4th century BC were found. The excavation took place in the 1970s and revealed mainly shards of vases. They were C14 dated and are now Museo Pigorini in Rome and in the Museo Preistorico in Valentano (VT). The entrance has a diameter of about 5 m. There is a trail to the cave and into the cave, a visit is not difficult but requires a little climbing across boulders.

When Hercules came to this area the locals were hostile. As a challenge he strongly pushed his club into the ground. Nobody could extract the club. When Hercules pulled it out easily, a huge flow of water sprang out of the hole and filled the valley below, forming Lake Vico. The locals are so grateful for the fish-rich lake, they erect a temple for Hercules.

Have no fear, the cave is dry, despite the legend. When and why it dried up is not handed down. Actually it is quite unlikely that ever water flowed out of the cave, its origin is volcanic and there are no erosional forms in the cave. So the legend is probably based on the form of the cave, which is going down like a well. On the other side its is definitely an old legend, it was depicted on an Etruscan bronze mirror from the 4th century BC.