STRETCHING out below Italys Abruzzese mountains to the east of Rome lies the sleepy village of Posta Fibreno. Next to it you will find Lake Fibreno, sparkling like a crystal-clear jewel. Bordering the lake is a dense reed belt where hundreds of coots have skilfully built their nests. On our first visit, we found that a soft breeze had created a slimy fringe of algae around the edge of the lake. The next day, as if by magic, this had disappeared. We kitted up and dropped beneath the surface to find ourselves immersed in an evergreen fairyland. The plant stems formed a dense, dark green thicket, which surrounded us until, all of a sudden, the water opened up into a lapis-blue basin. Most of the lake reaches no more than 4m deep but here, where the vegetation ceased, the lake bank dropped down to a 15m-deep basin. Here the clarity of the water, up to 50m, was impressive, and rising dramatically from the ground we came across a large crucifix (above) in memory of a drowned swimmer. Lake Fibreno lies at an altitude of 500m, and the water temperature is constant at around 8*C. There are no dive centres to be found nearby and until recently divers had to trek two hours to Rome if they wanted a tank fill. Thankfully, you can now fill up in nearby Frosinone. Although the area of Posta Fibreno has been declared a wildlife sanctuary, most aspects of village life still revolve around the lake. Women still use the lake water to scrub their laundry; eel, trout and carp feature on the menus of local restaurants, and reed from the lake is cut and woven into handicrafts. The lake grass, which grows incessantly, is harvested daily by fishermen in their characteristic wooden boats or canoes. The best time to visit Posta Fibreno is during the week, when the village is quiet and everything runs smoothly. One day, in between dives, we decided to rent a pedalo to take us to the lower end of the lake, where we were told we would find something called La Rota, or wheel. This turned out to be a mysterious swimming island that rotates on the waters surface. Its origin is a mystery - it is about 30m in diameter and 4m high, and it spins like a ping-pong ball as it is propelled by the wind.

  • Air cylinders can be filled at Pesca Piu, Viale Mazzini 76, Frosinone tel. 775 251234. Best time to visit the lake is between April and October.