Miseno Lake WAVE Living Lab 2022

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Area Miseno Lake
Place Bacoli, Naples
Country Italy
Topics regeneration of river and coastal areas, landscape regeneration and soil study, especially phenomena related to vulcanism
Author(s) Umberto Criscuolo, Adriana Napolitano, Vishnu Vardhan Perla, Ajit Sharma
Key Image Lake Miseno 400px.jpg


  • The Miseno area can be divided into 4 keywords: WATER, VEGETATION, FIRE and ARCHEOLOGY.
  • WATER: The presence of Lake Miseno that constitutes an ecosystem of great environmental interest. Furthermore, Miseno is a port area. The port exploited a double natural basin, the innermost one ( called “Mare morto” or “Lake Miseno” ), in ancient times dedicated to shipyards and naval maintenance, while the outermost one was the real port. Capo Miseno is full of beaches such as the beach of Miliscola, a very popular seaside resort during the summer.
  • VEGETATION: Miseno has a strong agricultural vocation in the area due to the presence of vineyards, citrus groves and the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.
  • FIRE: Miseno is located in the volcanic area of Phlegrean Fields.
  • ARCHEOLOGY: This is a place full of stories and archeological sites: we can explore the handsome architectures created by roman emperior. The archeology is connected with water because there are two cisterns such as “Piscina Mirabilis” and “Grotta della Dragonara”.

This area is rich in resources but due to its position it is isolated from the center of Bacoli. Furthermore, there are no public transport or pedestrian connection paths that can highlight its potential.

Location and scope

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Water as a natural system

Geomorphology, typologies and dynamics of water areas

  • Located in the southern part of the Phlegrean Fields, Miseno Lake takes place in the city of Bacoli, which is 25,5 km away from Naples. This place builds up its relationship with the sea through two main water basins, together creating a deep inlet.

Existing water bodies in the area of Phlegrean Fields:
1. Miseno Lake (40 hectares wide, 2.800 meters perimeter, 2,25-4 meters deep)
2. Fusaro Lake (0.97 km²)
3. Lucrino Lake (0,095 km²)
4. Avernus Lake (0,55 km², 35 meters deep)
Miseno lake is also called Mare Morto (Dead Sea) because it was an ancient volcanic crater, then filled with sea waters. The backdrop mainly consists of volcanic rock debris, but now it is 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 is walkable along its edges through a boardwalk and people can also reach the seashore from the lake by walk. The waterfront is full of activities like parks, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs: in particular, there is a floating bar, similar to a boat, where it is possible to have aperitifs with friends.

Near this area, we have other lakes too, which were born in a very similiar way to this lake, because of the volcanic activities that had interested this lands until the last centuries.

  • In this area there are no tributaries, but we have two estuaries: one channel coming from the sea into the lake (in the past this channel was used to communicate with the harbour); another one is located near the town of Miliscola and it is half buried due to erosion and coastal erosion (now closed to prevent possible contamination of bathing water facing the beach of Miliscola).
  • As in the area of Bacoli many places are classified by Authority as Very High Hydraulic Risk (R4), we had some flood events: in 2017 there was a violent storm, fell over 100-120 mm on a large area that provoked a series of critical situations, with vast flooding in the flat parts and abundant flows on the sloping areas, locally comparable to the processes of flash flooding.
  • 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.

Water as a living space

  • In the Phlegraean territory there is presence of numerous and well differentiated habitats. Today there are about 750 entities plants, which place the Phlegraean territory in second place among the areas of the Gulf of Naples by number of species, immediately after the Sorrentine Peninsula. As lagoons, the coastal lakes they are ecologically inconstant biotopes, to which plant and animal organisms are subjected changes in physico-chemical parameters induced by environmental impacts; the Phlegraean lakes suffer from conspicuous phenomena of pollution and the substantial destruction of the riparian vegetation, due to the excessive anthropization of the banks and surrounding areas. The bottom of the lake Miseno is completely covered by heavily muddy compact sandy sediment in correspondence of waste water discharges; the plant species typical of the riparian belt have some characteristics details that allow the plant to adapt to the aquatic context; the species, in these ecological bands follow one another, from water to land, in a series of habitats: in areas of the bank partially flooded there is the development of extensive portions of reeds (phragmites australis) followed by the herbaceous vegetation of the shore, the shrub bands and those arboreal. The riparian belts, being environments of interposed transition between land and water are particular ecological structures that are not easy identification, especially from the morphological point of view, as characterized by a high degree of biodiversity. In addition, the lakes of the Phlegraean territory are characterized by a lot of birdlife.
  • Despite the lakes are protected, they are affected by conspicuous phenomena of pollution and substantial destruction riparian vegetation, due to the excessive anthropization of the banks and areas surrounding. As far as bathing is concerned, it can be said that the Bacoli - Capo Miseno area has waters classified as having excellent quality. As for Lake Miseno, since the reservoir is not affected by tributaries of natural fresh water, it communicates with the sea through two mouths: one near the town of Miliscola subject to burial due to erosion and coastal transport phenomena and is currently obstructed; the other that communicates with the sea of ​​the bay of Miseno presents problems of reduced outflow into the sea. Water exchanges are limited to exchanges with the sea, the natural water exchange of the lake waters is extremely scarce.
  • The Flegrean area is characterized by human settlements which together with history geological have built the landscape over the centuries; an essential role was played by processes and phenomena of volcanic-tectonic origin and processes related to dynamics of the coasts, but in addition to these natural causes, the anthropization he defined has been added the form of land use of the Phlegraean Fields, which for centuries has been of an agricultural and silvopastoral type and which in recent times has been replaced by an extensive and chaotic urbanization. Unfortunately, the Phlegraean lakes record one significant loss of biodiversity, caused by the effects of anthropization which with the concreting of the banks, with the confluence of the sewer collectors together with one poor maintenance of lake habitats, have caused the eutrophication of the waters. In in particular, the extinction of riparian vegetation has a significant negative impact on the ecosystem as it provides the habitat with an ecological service. Riparian vegetation, acting as a filter, it reduces the direct introduction of surplus fertilizers into the water coming from contiguous cultivated areas; this ecological behavior makes the riparian vegetation an interface (riparian zone) between water and soil capable of protect the ecosystem; the plant communities that inhabit it (riparian vegetation) cover an important significance in environmental protection due to their biodiversity and to the influence they have on aquatic ecosystems.

Blue and Green Infrastructure

  • The municipal area has an extensive road network about 50 km which is qualitatively limited. The main access roads to the Municipality are, however, of fair width and were only partially paved in recent times. The morphological structure of the municipal area presents, in fact, a circulation ring that unravels from Baia, Via Montegrillo, tangentially crosses the historic center of Bacoli capital, along Via Risorgimento, continues along Via Lungolago, Viale Olimpico and Via Mercato di Sabato, then Via Giulio Cesare, Via Ottaviano Augusto, Via Terme Romane for rejoin Via Montegrillo. Along this ring, all two-way traffic, production activities are also located. The network of streets in the historic center of Bacoli, in particular, it is particularly limited and high population density. Currently, therefore, the main problem is limited access to the Bacoli area and, consequently, also to Lake Miseno. This type of problem affects on pollution and requires action on green infrastructures. A simple way to do this is to favor cycle and pedestrian access to the lake, which has already been the subject of the creation of public parks along the lakefront. The next step could be the insertion of a network that allows the development of pedestrian paths that favor the use of environmental naturalistic assets. At the beginning of 2021, after 80 years, a former military area was reopened, now inaugurated as a cycle-pedestrian path on Lake Miseno, accessible directly from the classic cycle path. Never exploited due to a landfill, this public park includes a 500-meter walk in the nature in which there are previous military warehouses and offers the possibility of lengthening the route already planned. The result of a project to redevelop the Bacoli area, it is an idea certainly appreciated not only by citizens, but also by outdoor walks lovers. Another way to build this network could be to promote water sports: in this way, citizens' sensitivity is activated in keeping their lake always clean. Likewise, the green areas of the Capo Miseno hill would be preserved, if the possibility of reaching the summit via trekking paths or picnic areas is activated.

Water as a cultural space

Land use and water

  • Near the fleet settlement enstablished by the Romans in the area of Bacoli, we have proofs there was the little city of Misenum, which by then was not just considered as a suburb of Cuma anymore. The Roman Emperor Augustus wanted Misenum to be a miltary settlement, where he could manage his business along with magistrates. Romans built several harbours, but they are also famous for their acqueducts: in this area they needed to gather waters coming from the Serino acqueduct, so they built a cistern, called Piscina Mirabilis. This masterpiece is one of the main exempla of this kind of construction in Italy and it is one of the biggest in a global scale (70 meters long, 25,50 meters wide and 15 meters high).
  • The lake (which unfortunately suffers today from a strong eutrophication, due to pollution from sewage drains and the almost complete obstruction of the mouths) owes its name to the Homeric legend of the companion of Ulysses, made by Virgil a Trojan warrior following Aeneas , who would have lost his life here and would therefore have been buried at Capo Miseno, whose square shape recalls that of a gigantic sepulcher. Due to its natural characteristics, the lake was used as a shipyard thanks to the construction of a large canal (no longer visible today and equipped with a movable bridge in ancient times), which connected it with the external basin, in fact, the real port was the "Rada di Miseno", protected from the open sea by Punta Pennata. The port of Miseno was used first by the Greeks of Cuma and later by the Romans. The port complex, in fact, was already one of the ports of call for Cumaean ships in the years in which the ancient colony of Magna Graecia (Kyme - Cuma) dominated the entire coast that extended from Punta Campanella on the Sorrento peninsula to Gaeta.
  • The lakes, Fusaro, Lucrino and Miseno are coastal lagoons behind the dunes, therefore they are characterized by brackish waters and are separated from the sea by thin strips of land. For Lake Miseno, the goals provide for the re-functionalization of the reclamation systems of the banks of the Miseno through the removal of the materials accumulated there, the improvement of water exchanges, essential to guarantee the balance of the sea-lake ecosystem through the removal and disposal of sandy materials transported by the wave motion and accumulated both in the riverbed of the mouths and in the areas in front of the outlets into the sea.

Cultural and spatial typologies of water areas

  • Miseno area is an attractive pole for tourism. Infact, this is a perfect place to holiday resort because it is related to sea. Every summer, many people come to this area to book a B&B or a hotel and spend their holidays there. The morphology of the area is very important for people: the presence of Lake Miseno leads people to practice water sports like swimming, water polo and rowing. Furthermore, it influenced the port which in the past assumed a military value. The green part is very interesting because there is an uncontrolled urbanization phenomenon that develops behind the lake Miseno, in particular near the Park Cerillo.

Sacred spaces and heritage

Thanks to its long history, we have several masterpiece and archaeological traces of the past civilizations. To mention some of them:

  • Piscina Mirabilis. The Piscina Mirabilis is the largest known Roman drinking water cistern in the world, built for the water supply of the Miseno fleet. The light effects created by the openings in the vault make the interior of the cistern a suggestive place and indeed "mirabilis", as the great Tuscan poet Francesco Petrarca called it.
  • Grotta della Dragonara. In addition to the Piscina Mirabilis in Bacoli, there is another imposing Roman cistern, the so-called Grotta della Dragonara: completely excavated inside the tuff rock and the Miseno mountain, with water that flows from a thermal spring, the structure can now be visited thanks to an iron walkway. Used as a refuge, deposit and landfill in the 900s, in the past it was to serve the Maritime villa which belonged to Lucullus (in which, according to Tacitus, the emperor Tiberius died) there from which the annexed fish farm descend into the sea.
  • Capo Miseno Lighthouse. Thanks to its strategic position, the Miseno lighthouse illuminates the Gulf of Pozzuoli and the Procida channel. The lighthouse has been standing since the early 1800s. Built with the aim of making visible the passage through one of the busiest channels in our peninsula. Later on, to ensure greater safety when traveling at sea, the Inspectorate of Lighthouses and Maritime Signaling was born, based in Naples within the arsenal. In 1943, towards the end of the Second World War, the lighthouse was hit and razed to the ground by German aerial bombardments. It was entirely rebuilt in 1948, so what we see today is not the original lighthouse, but a more modern version of it.
  • Agrippina's Crave. The tomb of Agrippina has been erroneously defined as the tomb in which the remains of Nero's mother (who was killed by the emperor in Baia in 59 AD) lie. It is a small theater (odeion) dating back to the first century BC, belonging to a Maritime villa, which is now hidden. After bradyseism phenomena, the structure was transformed into an nymphaeum and then partially collapsed below the level of the beach of what is now Marina Grande di Bacoli.
  • Punta Pennata islet. In Punta Pennata we can find 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.
  • Roman amphitheater of Miseno. This is a roman building located in Miseno, on the point that so called “Sarparella”. It was builded between II and III sec A.D.. Today, this amphitheater is hidden by the surrounding buildings but it exist an underground archeological path for guided tours by cultural associations. Inside the amphitheater, there is an access that overlooks the port of Miseno: probably there was an ancient coastal road.

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • The most important elements that represent the landscape for the citiziens of Capo Miseno are the water, the vegetations and archeology. The water is represented by the sea because it is a perfect place for swimming, fishing or boating. This is a part of Phlegrean Fields that borders the island of Procida and the island of Ischia. It’s proximity to picturesque landscapes such as Baia, Pozzuoli and Nisida. (image 1). The vegetation is very important for agricolture. Even today we can find fruit and vegetable crops, especially lemons that are grown according to local techniques. During the post-impressionism period in Naples. Giovanni Panza who was born in Miseno in 1894, represented some bucolic scenes of his native land (image 2).In most cases, the archeology is related to water because we have two roman cisterns to take water: Piscina Mirabilis and Grotta della Dragonara. (image 3).
  • The name “Capo Miseno” is related to Miseno, an italic mithological character. Miseno, that was Eolo’s son, was a trumpeter of the army of the “Aeneid” by Virgilio. He’s quoted in the Third Book, when he sends the signal to his comrades to attack the harpies with the “bronze cable”. He was killed and thrown into the sea by Triton, the son of Poseidon the god of the seas. His death was foreseen by the Sibyl to allow Aeneas to enter in Hades. Aeneas with his companions builds a sanctuary to give him burial, and invokes him so that he may therefore be granted the "golden branch" necessary to descend to the underworld (image 4).
  • Furthermore, Miseno is also a holiday resort for the presence of the sea and beaches. The french writer Madame de Staël, in her famous novel “Corinne Or Italy” (1807), she describes the last days of Corinne in Capo Miseno because she was a victim of her family’s prejudices which made her union with Lord Nelvil impossible. The painter Francois Gérard represented Corinne in Capo Miseno (image 5).

Water and People

Accessibility and usability

  • The ways to reach the lake are numerous. It is connected with the ports, with a pedestrian area with the gardens where the people can watch acquatic sports on the lake. The lake is surrounded by barriers that divide the pedestrian path from the street.
  • The viability is the main problem of our area. The shortage of public transport to come to this place by car that produces pollution. Every summer a bus rarely passes to take people from Vomero to Capo Miseno because there aren’t bus stops in this place. There aren’t cycle paths that could be useful for the pedestrians. Infact, we can see people on bicycles on the street but they can be exposed to the risks about the cars that passed on it. So, to reach this place on foot is very difficult.

Community Mapping

  • Social groups from within the community, we have identified:

  • Local stakeholder groups we have identified:
  • Free Bacoli
  • Diamo a Bacoli
  • Percorsi cumani
  • External stakeholder groups we have identified:
  • Nucleo ambientale volontario Campania

Possible Futures

  • DPSIR model

To identify drivers that generate pressures on our area helps us to study main problems to find a solution for. Main drivers are agriculture, transport and tourism, in fact the pollution of the lake, tansports and turism generate emissions 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.

  • Possible Goals:

Target 11.4

_Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage

Target 11.7

_By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive, and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities

Target 13.2

_Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning

Target 13.3

_Increase the economic benefits and least-developed counties from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism

Target 14.1

_By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

Target 15. a

_Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

Collaborative Goal Setting

  • Reflections emerged by interfacing with some citizens:

- From an analysis, it emerges that the port of Miseno is the least frequented in the Bacoli area, even though it is one of the most representative.
- It is difficult for residents to move around the municipality, due to the lack of transports: most citizens travel on foot. In order to fill this gap, the use of cycle paths is proposed.
- Need for places to stay overnight: Bacoli is full of places to visit and at the same time lacks facilities where the tourist can stop. Increasing these structures could increase tourism and the local economy.
- Creation of cultural centers, meeting places, which attract young and old, in which to inform the visitor about the natural, historical and culinary beauties of the place.
- Reuse the places of decay, such as the 6 lines, creating hostels, places designed specifically for young people, which help to make Bacoli a living and moving city.

  • Strategic planning objectives based on the evaluation findings from our analysis:

-reduce vehicolar pollution
-introduce natural barriers
-completion of cycle paths
-new public green area with playgrounds
-green areas/ lakefront
-improve pedestrian access to the lake
-improve accessibility to the area

Spatial Strategy and Transect

  • Strategic goals visions
  • Synthesis of the analysis and spatial translation vision

From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • Our perspective for the change

Despite being a highly significant contributor towards shaping the urban life and the quality of urban spaces, the fact remains that the concept and idea of meaningful public realm remains largely ignored, especially within neighborhoods with their series of unmaintained and misused public spaces.

  • Implemention of our vision

The study was based on an understanding of how the physical pattern and organization of a neighborhood influences perception and understanding of public places, multiple forms in which public places are manifested, different ways in which public places are understood, and various manners in which public places are used. The study reinforced the notion that the design, condition and quality of the neighborhood streets and spaces have a major impact on the quality of its inhabitants’ life, and their careful designing and quality development can help to create successful public places.

  • Which governance model is required? Who needs to act and how?

-Interested people from public
-Design competitions
-Design exchange programs from architects and urban planners to community for ideas
-Interaction with public for raising awareness about sustainability
-Representing the goals to government officials and Municipality
-Raising funds from the investors and stakeholders (Even for commercial business with growth potentials)


Process Reflection

  • Reflection for our intercultural and interdisciplinary team on the outcomes of our study

The WAVE online course was an occasion to know experts from every part in the world and to learn different approaches of urban design. After a long pandemic period, we have integrated the seminar with some live lessons that has allowed us to stay and work together. Each of us has leart from the other a series of skills and we have used this skills in the urban project to make the capabilities of the lake Miseno as an attractor of the community. Furthermore, from the analisys that we have done about the listening of every point of view of local citizens, we have choosen the best solution to satisfy the needs of the community and for the regeneration of the lake at the same time. Living labs were an interesting experience to discover different places and to know the works of urban planners and landscape architects. In the end, they were interesting also to see the difference between other case studies with our context.