Miseno Lake WAVE Living Lab 2021

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Area Miseno Lake
Place Bacoli
Country Italy
Topics regeneration of river and coastal areas, landscape regeneration and soil study, especially phenomena related to vulcanism
Author(s) Colarullo Martina, D'Alessandro Orsola, Danese Sabrina and D'Errico Alessia
Lake miseno.JPG


  • The Miseno area is an important case study because it is a territory rich in resources.
  • One can describe the potential of the area through three keywords: the first, from the Latin "acquarium", means "water tank"; water has been a resource for the territory since ancient times, in fact many of the archaeological sites of the area are aqueducts such as the "Piscina Mirabilis", "Grotta della Dragonara" and "Sacello degli Augustali".
  • The second is "vacum", also from Latin, means "empty" that refers to the etymology of the term Bacoli that emphasizes the strong agricultural vocation of the area. In addition, Lake Miseno, an ecosystem of great environmental interest, is also conceived as a "void that fills up"; the lake was formed through the waters of the sea, which flowed into a volcanic crater.
  • Finally, through the Latin term "otium", which underlines the tourist vocation of the area, since ancient times used by the Romans as a place for holidays.
  • The area is shaped by history, it has numerous archaeological sites such as the "Toma di Agrippina", the "Roman Necropolis of Cappella" and others, but the maintenance of them and the bad connection with the center of Bacoli, makes it unattractive. The waters, especially lake Miseno, are polluted and a clean-up should be taken. An intervention for the change of territory concerns the redevelopment of the area, which surrounds the lake, where there are abandoned spaces, but also to increase and exploit the connection between the lake and the port.

Location and scope

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Water as a natural system

Geomorphology, typologies and dynamics of water areas

  • The Miseno Lake is located in the city of Bacoli, in the southern part of Hydrographic Bacin of Phlegrean Fields. It is separated from the sea by a sandy reef about 200 meters wide but is connected to it through two mouths: the first located near the town of Miliscola and the second located near the bay of Miseno.

Existing water bodies in the area:

1. Miseno Lake, which has an area of 40 hectares and a perimeter of 2800 meters. The average depth is 2.25 meters and the maximum depth is 4.

2. Fusaro Lake,The lake was formed with the closure of the stretch of sea between the hamlets of Torregaveta and Cuma. Its perimeter measures about 4.10 km and has an area of 0.97 km²

The Miseno lake is a salty lagoon, has his origins from the sea waters flowed into the crater of an ancient volcano and because of this phenomenon, it is called “Dead Sea”. The backdrop mainly hard consisting of volcanic rock debris, is now covered by layers of muddy sediment anoxic and rich in nutrients that reach thicknesses of more than a metre along the north banksWest, North and East, in the current areas of slurry spillage and discharge.

  • The Lake has two estuaries: the first, 250 meters long, is located near the town of Miniscola. In the past this estuary has been subject to frequent burials due to erosion and coastal transport and is, at present closed, at the disposal of the local health authorities in order to prevent contamination of the bathing water facing the beach of Miliscola. The second estuary is 100 m long, section 5 m2, communicates with the sea in the bay of Miseno and presents problems of reduced outflow to the sea where at the beginning the depth is reduced to about 30 cm.

There aren't natural sweet tributaries and the water exchanges are limited to the sea, however small, so the natural water exchange of the lake is extremely poor: about 4,5 years.

  • The territory of Bacoli represent an environmental system and landscape of exceptional value, consisting of an inseparable intertwining between natural structure, historical training and agricultural use. This three factors have determined over time an ecosystem still in continuous evolution but whose fragility appears even more exposed today after the incessant transformations occurred between the 60’s and 90’s.

In addition, the high urbanisation of areas exposed to such phenomena, contributes to increasing the levels of risk associated with them. The coastal zone of the Phlegrean Fields volcanic district is prone to a wide spectrum of natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, flash floods, ground deformation, landslides and coastal erosion. The area of Bacoli is affected by the phenomenon of bradyseism, a slow vertical movement of the soil in a large area. is a cyclical phenomenon that can be associated with seismic phenomena of discrete intensity.

  • In 2017 there was a violent storm, fell over 100-120 mm on a large area including Bacoli. (1/8 of what normally falls in a whole year). The rains provoked a series of critical situations on the territory, with vast flooding in the flat parts and abundant flows on the sloping areas, locally comparable to the processes of flash flooding.

Water as a living space

  • The good climatic conditions and the presence of a fair percentage of humidity, due to the presence of the lakes, combined with the exceptional fertility of the soil, favored, at the end of the volcanic activity, the settlement of Apennine and Mediterranean plant species, which they are distributed according to the environmental conditions: this is why in the Phlegraean territory, in a small space, multiple plant associations coexist, which greatly raise the level of plant biodiversity in the area and, consequently, its ecological value.The Misenum is an ecosystem of great environmental interest, but it has long suffered from serious pollution problems caused by illegal discharges and often times the almost complete obstruction of the mouths.The environment of flora and fauna along the sea water have characteristics that partly also depend on the volcanic nature of the place.
  • The lake is a brackish lagoon, it is connected to the sea by two mouths,one of Miseno and the other one of Miliscola, which after the recent adaptation they works allow the flow, controlled by locks, of sea water into the lake. There are no natural sweet tributaries, water exchanges are limited only with the sea.
  • The historic center of the city of Bacoli has developed on the eastern shore of the lake; the south side is used for agricultural crops, there is a separation from the sea that forms a coastal strip, where the beach of Milliscola is located. The lake is surrounded by a cycle path, recently built, it represents an environmentally friendly tourist route. In addition to the important presence of the municipal villa that overlooks the lake and represents a large part of the public green area for Bacoli, there are abandoned land and structures.
  • Are the rivers permeable for fish or blocked by artificial elements?(approx 200 signs)

Blue and Green Infrastructure

  • The major potential elements of green infrastructure network are the areas of greenery aided around Lake Miseno, including the municipal villa, and the green paths that lead to the Lighthouse of Miseno; also there is a cycle path that extends from Baia, around the lake, to Capo Miseno, where a pedestrian path has connects the lake with the lighthouse. The areas around the lake are mostly abandoned or occupied by parking lots, the poor state of maintenance and pollution of the lake also devalues these cycle-pedestrian paths. These areas need redevelopment interventions, to enhance the territory and create a line of green infrastructures that can make the connection between Lake Miseno and Capo Miseno more attractive. While, for blue infrastructure, the major potential elements are Lake Miseno, the port of Miseno and the coastline: the coastline is occupied by tourist equipment, but here too there are some abandoned areas; while the waters are polluted due to waste.

Water as a cultural space

Land use and water

  • In image 1. a cartography is illustrated which highlights the various uses of the land; with a majority of agricultural and residential areas. The infrastructures are few but essential and almost all coexist in the city center.
  • In image 2. illustrates how the human settlement system has expanded over time.
  • In Roman times Miseno and the neighboring villages was a holiday resort. The remains of Cento Camerelle, part of the Piscina Mirabilis and the so-called Agrippina Tomb are still preserved today from the ancient Bauli. During the Augustan era, Bacoli became the elective capital of politics, culture and worldliness. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city of Bacoli also declined due to some geological phenomena (bradyseism and erosions). In the 17th century the city was reborn and became one of the favorite destinations of Europeans. In addition to Bacoli today, the current municipality also includes the remains of the ancient Bauli, Miseno and its subsidiary Miliscola, former seat of the Roman Emperor's fleet.The land use of the study area can change and is undergoing change, in fact the representatives of some associations, in defense of the Bacoli area, have shown us (during the Living Labs) intervention projects proposed for this change.

Cultural and spatial typologies of water areas

  • The urban morphology of our area has been strongly influenced by the presence of water: in particular, Lake Miseno, which constitutes a water square, can be considered a spatial model that has evolved in relation to the sea, from which it collects the waters.The port of Miseno assumes great importance, which in the past had a military value. Lake Miseno and the Tyrrhenian Sea are divided by a strip of coast, which today has cultivated and urbanized but also abandoned areas. Around the lake there are various areas of uncultivated green including in particular, the former military area of Cinque Lenze. Along the coast various bathing activities have developed over time that attract tourists especially in the summer, with the presence of numerous hotels and B & Bs. There are no industrial areas, on the contrary, there is a strong presence of restricted greenery such as the municipal villa but in particular, mostly behind the Cerillo Park. A large part of our area undergoes an urban development that is not entirely controlled which develops in particular between the Lake and the Cerillo Park.

Sacred spaces and heritage

The territory of Bacoli is full in archaeological evidence that traces the history of the place, important monuments that are part of the citizens' memory of the place.

  • Mirabilis Pool

The Mirabilis Pool is the largest known cistern ever built by the ancient Romans and had the function of supplying water to the ships of the Roman Navy that found mooring and shelter in the port of Miseno. The cistern was entirely dug into the tuff hill overlooking the port, 8 meters above sea level. The mirabilis pool was the terminal reservoir of one of the main Roman aqueducts, the Augustan aqueduct, which brought water from the sources of Serino, 100 kilometers away, to Naples and Phlegraean Fields. It was a privileged destination in the stops of the Grand Tour, it was also designed by Giuliano Sangallo for its architectural interest, for its strong charm and magnificence. It is among the Phlegraean places mainly chosen as filming locations.

  • Agrippina’s Grave

The Agrippina’s grave is the name with whom, from the nineteenth century onwards, has been erroneously indicated one of the archaeological sites of the municipality of Bacoli. The original layout of the structure, an odeion or a small theater of the Augustan or Julio-Claudian age of which only the signs of the steps are preserved, was transformed into a nymphaeum exedra between the end of the I and the beginning of the II century AD, probably as a result of the partial sinking due to bradysis phenomena.

  • Roman Theatre of Miseno

The theatre was built on the hillside. At the beginning of the last century, part of the scene and the cavea are still preserved, with the stairs between the wedges and the vomiting. Today, as a result of the intense urbanization, only isolated structures survive that do not allow to capture an overall image of the building. They are arches and, on the intermediate level, the remains of a staircase and part of a tunnel, now transformed into a deposit. It is still possible to walk a section of the lower corridor from which the other radial tunnels depart, later walled. Characteristic of the theater was the presence of a tunnel that, from the thirteenth arch of this corridor, reached, crossing the hill, the ancient Via Herculea and then the port. The tunnel, still existing and passable, ends directly at sea.

  • Lucullo’s Fisheries

On Capo Miseno north-western side, near the famous Dragonara Cave, there is a sequence of caves. They are dug in tuffs and they are presently partly submerged by the sea. The caves belong to a system of water tanks and fisheries, dating back to the republican age. The structures probably belonged to a magnificent villa, but the “Lucullo’s Fisheries” denomination is conjectural.

  • Punta Pennata

The islet of Punta Pennata has a high cultural importance, there are many ruins, mostly covered by dense vegetation, considered according to a thesis pertinent to an extensive patrician villa indicated in some writings as Villa di Lucullo. According to another thesis, the entire island, at the time peninsula, would have been the seat of the praetorium misenate, the headquarters of the command of the legions. The whole complex seems to have had two phases: one at the beginning of the I sec d.C. and the other of reuse in the II sec. Near the entire stretch of coast to NO of the islet are visible remains of further submerged environments. Moreover the islet of Punta Pennata is crossed by two tunnels called "Cave of the coral" and "Cave of Nerone" which had the function of draining the waters to avoid the cover-up. In 1921 twenty-two pieces and fragments of sculptures were discovered in an old landfill, which had been reached by the works of the then existing pozzolana quarry.

  • Capo Miseno’s Lighthouse

On the tip of the promontory that was originally part of a crater, stands the lighthouse of Capo Miseno. It seems to have been there forever, ready to illuminate the ways of ships. And yet, what is now a lighthouse, was once one of the 366 watchtowers erected by the Viceroys to see the Saracen ships, always close to the conquest of the Kingdom. Nothing of the ancient tower remained, but its purpose remained in fact the same. If before it was used by the people (but above all by the soldiers) to save themselves from the probable attacks, today its function is to illuminate the way of the boats. The lighthouse was built in the early 1800s. In 1943, almost at the end of World War II, the lighthouse of Cape Miseno was hit by bombing. The structure as it appears today dates back to 1948, the year in which the reconstruction work was completed. Due to its strategic position it is one of the most important Italian lighthouses illuminating the Gulf of Pozzuoli and the channel of Procida; one of the most beautiful and evocative of Italy for its uniqueness, has great value as a testimony of the history of the place.

  • You may add a map and some images, please also explain in your caption why these elements are valuable

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • The landscape of the Miseno area is characterized by many rural areas, which are exploited in an agricultural way by the citizens; important is the naturalistic aspect dominated by the predominant presence of Lake Miseno which gives its name to the town (image 1).An aspect that jumps out is the connection between the lake and the sea, it is very suggestive; the water is a main character. Historical side is a very important aspect for the area, there are various archaeological sites act as main poles for the area.
  • The area of Capo Miseno, Miseno and the surrounding areas have very often been sets of narratives and representations. For example, in Madame de Steal's novel "Corinne ou l'Italie" it tells of a love story between Corinne and a young Englishman who get married in Naples; about that Francois Gérard painted "Corinne a Capo Miseno"(image 2).A painting that concerns the archaeological and historical part of the place is "Nerone and Agrippina" by Antonio Rizzi.(image 3)
  • The area has been the protagonist of many myths that have been handed down over the years. Famous is the episode that characterizes the Aeneid and which would explain the orgin of the town name: Miseno. Homer wrote that Aeneas, before being able to enter Hades, had to bury Misenus, his trumpeter who died for having challenged Triton.Aeneas buried Misenus under the ground of what is now called Capo Miseno. Another episode concerning the Bacoli area is in the "Ten labors of Hercules"; during his tenth labor Hercules captured the oxen of Geryon, when he was in Bacoli he built stables. In greek Boulia means oxen; according to tradition, the term Bacoli derives from here.(image 4)

Water and People

Accessibility and usability

  • The lake is connected to the city, especially near the areas of the municipal gardens, where are numerous access points. In the areas of private property and in the abandoned areas, instead it closes, generally, the barriers consist of low walls that generate a difference in height between the road and the lake. Access from Milliscola is also closed by chains, while access from the port is permitted.
  • The spaces around the lake are used by the citizens of Bacoli for sporting activities, thanks to the cycle path and the pedestrian path; the spaces of the municipal villa are also used in free time by children or by the municipality for debates with citizens; the villa is also equipped with a stage and a cavea used for theatrical performances or events. The coastal part is mainly used by tourists who visit the area in the summer to enjoy the sun and the sea.

Community Mapping

What is to be mapped here?

  • Social groups from within the community, for example the youth, kids, students, parents, the retired etc. Typically, these groups have specific needs, which you can also make explicit on the map. These people might not be organized in any way, but they are usually present in the context you are observing
  • Local stakeholder groups: these groups are organized in one or the other way. They only exist within the community context you are observing. For example: the local community center, local churches, local interest groups, the landowners, small businesses and retailers
  • External stakeholder groups are not necessarily present in the environment you are observing, but they may have strong stakes and interests. These can be local authorities, politicians, associations, care services etc.
  • For each group, you may identify their needs, objectives, power and capacities
  • You may also identify gaps and power conflicts
  • Please try to redepict these elements in an integrated way and in relation to your water landscape. What is the relationship between these groups? Are they close or distanced from each other? Who is more powerful? Which voices are hardly heard? Do they have any shared concerns?

Possible Futures

  • DPSIR(image 1.) We identified the drivers that generate the pressures; for our area main drivers are agriculture, transport and tourism, infact the pollution of the lake through discharges into it and the tansports and turism generate emissions and and waste. Pressures alter the state of water, soil and air, causing an impact on costs and on human and economic health. This analysis finds an answer in the reconnection project between nature and city, through cooperation and active participation, greem and blue infrastructure sustainable agriculture.
  • The values identified and the weaknesses determined the main intervention goals concerning the requalify and increase the already exiting pedestrian-cycle path, around the lake. We want to reduce the pollution generated by illegal drains, also to create new access to connect the lake to the city. The last one is to redevelop abandoned green areas, donating them to the community.
  • The response of the DPSIR allowed us to generate forecasts on the interventions about:

-The redevelopment of the green infrastructure. (image 2.)

-The reclamation of the mouths blocked by phenomena of erosion. (image 3.)

-The planning of new accesses to connect the lake to the city. (image 4.)

-The redevelopment of abandoned areas through the introduction of tourism sustainable.(image 5.)

  • The forecasts are aimed at implementing the goals identified by increasing the values of the area.

Collaborative Goal Setting

  • Define strategic planning objectives based on the evaluation findings from your analysis
  • Ideally, involve the community of your living labs into this process
  • Link back to your original targets from section one and the Development Goals
  • 150 words text contribution

Spatial Strategy and Transect

  • translate your strategic goals into a vision
  • develop a spatial translation of your vision
  • exemplify your vision in the form of a transect with concrete interventions
  • add map(s) and visualizations

From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • For implementing your vision: Which partnerships are needed? Which governance model is required?
  • Who needs to act and how? Draw and explain a change/process model/timeline
  • Which resources are needed? On which assets can you build?
  • add 150 words text and visuals


  • give a full list of the references you have used for your case

Process Reflection

  • Reflect in your intercultural and interdisciplinary team on the outcomes of your study
  • Which limitations were you facing?
  • What have you learnt from each other?
  • What did you learn in the Living Labs?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • You can also use diagrams/visuals
  • 250 words text