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Capodacqua, Italy

Intro Paragraph

can you make a banner for a webpage. Drawn as a cartoon of a cold water scuba diver diver

Diving the source of a river to find medieval mills. Capodacqua, from latin Caput Acquæ (meaning indeed "source of the river) ", is ne of the thee source s of the Tirino river and flows out of the underground basin of the Gran Sasso Mountain. In 1965 a dam was built downstream of the spring to collect the water to irrigate the nearby fields and today also used to partially power a nearby hydroelectric power station. The construction of the dam sank two medieval mills and a paint factory present in the small strip of land.

Satellite image of Capodacqua

Diving Conditions:

GPS: 42.281361, 13.79274

Location: Lago Capodacqua (L'Aquila)

Altitude: 330m a.s.l.

Depth: 6-8m 
Type of bottom: Silty 

Interests: Underwater ruins, underwater forest, shore dive

Water Temperature: 8-10°C all year round 

Visibility: 15-80m. The best visibility is November-February. In the summer there is algae bloom which reduces the visibility to about 15m


About 20m from the entry point, there a path is clearly visible, with tree stubs on either side and ruins on the right. After about 30m the path turns to the left and the larger mill is visible. In the ruins, window and door frames are still visible as the slot where the shutters used to sit. Go around the ruins and continue straight to reach the other mill. The road in front of the mill and the drainage below it is still clearly visible. There are the pillars that used to support the arches which are easy to spot. Unfortunately, the area was hit in 2009 by an earthquake which destroyed the last arch standing. Head back towards the entry/exit point and reach an area with plants and reeds. As there is very little water movement, if it is a sunny day, you can see the plants and especially the reeds, photosynthesising and producing oxygen. You will see a stream of tiny bubbles out of the flora. 

The ruins per se are not particularly impressive but the entire scenery is very picturesque and the sun rays shimmering on the ruins, on a sunny day is beautiful, 
Divers are required to stay at least 5m away from the ruins to ensure their preservation. They were built without concrete and thus are prone to damage. This is also the reason why you are not allowed to dive it unguided.   

Dive Site

AI generated Image
Detail of a water mill along the Aterno, characterized by the arches under which the wheels are placed. Detail of the plan by P. Mortier (Copy present in the State Archives of L’Aquila)

Please note this image is AI generated, using Adobe Firefly and the following prompt: "Very broken down ruins of a medieval mill completely submerged underwater in a blue lake with sunrays coming through" A scuba diver was then subsequently added. The banner image above is also AI generated. 


How to get there:

It is about two hours drive from Rome and the closest airport is Pescara. You will need a car to get there but there are campsites and B&Bs not too far away. 



None! But there is plenty of space to park multiple cars next to the dive site. 

Toilets: Scenic, but the Dive Centre grew a nice hedge around the scenic toilet to allow for some privacy but only peeing is allowed. 

A fountain with drinkable water from the spring close by.

There is also the possibility to rent a glass-bottom pedal boat and see the ruins "from above" for the non-divers


You need to dive with Atlantide Scuola di Sommozzatori, which is a family run business. Dante Cetrioli manages the lake and runs the diving and his elderly mother helps him with the bookings. Sometimes it can be quite hard to get indepth information! 

Phone and Whatsapp: +39 347 342 01 85

Dives are €35 (and include guide, tanks and weight). They also rent gear (€20 for BCD and regs or €50 for everything), however, they do not usually provide gear so they are not well equipped. Also, they only have few wetsuits and if the fit is not great in 8°C it can get uncomfortable very quickly). Prices are for summer 2024.

You can do 2 dives a day plus a night dive (but only fall to spring). 

November is the best time to dive it as the visibility is great and the surface temperature is still not too cold. There is no shelter around the dive site, just a few trees, so if it rains, snows or is very windy it can get cold. 

Diving only runs Saturdays and Sundays. If you are at least 5 people it might be possible to arrange for other days and also a night dive in the summer.


Dante is also a freediver (in 2011 he broke the world record for horizontal swimming under ice (85m), so it is also possible to arrange freediving. 


Emergency number: 112

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