There is an old grotto on the south side of this lake. It was from here that Aeneas left on his quest to find Hades, thanks to a bit of guidance from the Cumaen Sibyl. A stairwell inside this cave, we are told, leads to the river Styx. Up until recently you could arrange to see inside, but sadly, the grotto’s aging caretaker is no longer able to give tours. The only thing to see here now is a sign, “Grotta del Bagno della Sibilla”, marking the entrance to this cave. You’ll have to use your imagination to see the Lago Averno of Virgil’s time.
Virgil’s Lago Averno, “the place without birds”, sat eerily lifeless. The toxic sulphurous gas coughed up by this crater lake killed everything in its wake, even the birds that dared to fly overhead. Today, the crater is covered in lush vegetation and vineyards trample down the northern depth of its bowl. The base of the lake plays host to the odd restaurant and the remains of the dome of a large bathhouse. The so called Temple of Apollo climbs out of the earth on the lake’s eastern shore, its body buried 37 feet below, thanks to bradyseism.