Since ancient times, the tasks related to farming have been assigned to men and those connected with the domestic organization and the courtyard to women, respectively. Considering the  activities related with a lake, men would probably use it for fishing, while women for all home necessities.

Up until the1960s, before the spread of the use of the washing machine, the laundry would take place on the shore of a lake (or river) using half submerged large stones as laundry soaps and water. Later, public wash-houses were built, creating a very important occasion for socialization and conviviality among women of the coastal small cities. It was a common picture, the rows of women who went to the lake with the dirty clothes and returned with the clothes, washed and dried, on their head. If this practice recalls some evocative stories, it is important to remind that it was not environmental friendly. The water of the lake was used also for hygienic purposes.

Ensuring the water for the home’s needs was a daily task for women. Carrying those typical cupper vessels on their heads, they would daily visit the few drinking fountains spread in the villages to fill their containers. Often women sang along the way. Actually, there is a considerable literature concerning popular songs and singsongs, but unfortunately as these were communicated verbally  from father to son (or mother to daughter) currently many of these have been lost.

A walk around the historic centers of the towns of the area allows today’s visitor to imagine scenes form the past: winding streets that climb from the lake, the echo of the songs of women in front of the stove or intent on hanging laundry outside the window. Ring out the cries of mothers to their children who are playing “cops and robbers”, running breathlessly down the alleys, noisy as flocks of swallows. Those same women who were washing clothes along the lake or at the public wash-house and with the “zinc-bath” full of clothes on the head, went home, tired but happy, and always ready to make groups for a gossip.

Walking through the narrow streets of the three small towns we can still enjoy the smells that come from the old kitchens; smells that fill our nostrils and stimulate us to imagine the dishes preparation.How long these sounds, smells and warm atmosphere of talkative open people will remain? Perhaps the new people coming from abroad to live in these small towns will affect us in losing all these beautiful things and it will remain just a souvenir.

Until the 1980s, eutrophication in Lake Bracciano appeared regularly every year. A thick surface layer of algae was part of the landscape of July, near the beginning of the effluent (Arrone River). This phenomenon was anticipated as the pollutants would pile up in the area before the lake water would flow down towards the sea trough the stream Arrone. The periodical algal blooming has practically disappeared thanks to the realization of the Integrate Project ACEA – Co.B.I.S.

Today the visitor can enjoy new sensations: those offered, going on a sailing boat. With the wind the sailors become the only protagonists enjoying the lake, wet with splashes from waves broken by the prow, and suddenly, at high speed, over the waves because the boat is gliding … all are feelings that previously did not exist on this Lake.

It is interesting to recall the reaction of the locals when back in 1927 the first sailing boat was introduced to the lake: They would encounter the boat that had the wind as its engine with great suspicion and doubtful attitude… Today we can see thousands of boats are sailing and distrust has disappeared.

                    Image courtesy of Hydria Virtual Museum
Image 1 / 1 Photo S. Cerocchi

Hydria Virtual Museum

We would like to quote the poetry of Sergio Pierdomenico, fisherman and farmer, who wanted to express the beauty of Lake Bracciano in few verses:

Pescoso è il lago, 

e tanti so’ li bagnanti di questa vasca limpida e pulita, 

da cui nacquero tanti naviganti che han solcato i mari della vita.

Il luogo è bello e facile a descrivere,

Vulcana fu l’origine del lago, 

li prati verdi e tant’artri colori che fan parpitar er core all’amatori.

Questi dintorni son tutti ‘na pendenza, 

come se avessero l’obbligo di dare,

ma l’acqua je ne fa riconoscenza e tutte le colline fa specchiare.


(The lake is abounding in fish,

and many are the bathers of this clear and clean basin ,

from which sprang many seafaring who have sailed the seas of life.

The place is beautiful and easy to describe,

Volcanic was the origin of the lake,

the green meadows and many other colors that give lovers’ heart palpitations.

These are all around slope

as if they had the duty to give,

but the water makes it gratitude and does reflect all the hills.)

Next: Present Status