Lago di Patria, translated as "Lake of the Fatherland
", is located in the province of Campania
. The remains of the villa
of Scipio Africanus
, the only Roman
general to defeat the Carthaginian
, is located on its shores. In the late 1970's
, a family of Basque shepherds
lived behind the villa, grazing their sheep
amidst the ruins
The body of the Roman general is thought to have been thrown in the lake itself upon his death in 184 BC, rather than returned to Rome to be buried among the city's elite.
Access to the lake is primarily by the Via Domiziana or Domitian Way which stretches between Rome and Naples. Turning inland on the "strada americana" (Via Circumvallazione) off of the Via Domiziana, Africanus' villa is less than a kilometer on the left. The term "strada americana" refers to the fact that a large number of Americans, who work for the local US military presence, live in the area. An alternate explanation is that the four lane road was originally built by the American military during the occupation of the region following World War II (the big one). Americans simply refer to the road as "the four laner."
The ruins are a typical example of Italy's problems maintaining its antiquities. Such sites are too numerous for the Italian and international archaeological communities to fund appropriately. The ruins are literally in ruins, often covered in unremoved garbage. Local youth even use the grounds to smoke their spinelli.