Bolsena medieval village (Viterbo - Italy)

The town of Bolsena stands on a hill at the foot of the Volsini Mountains, in a beautiful panoramic position on the north-eastern side of the homonymous large lake. Its origins date back to the Etruscan times which built a small fortified settlement here, then, with the expansion of Rome, the settlement returned to the Roman context taking the name of Volsinii which brought a period of prosperity between the I and IV century AD In the second half of the VI century AD , Bolsena was razed to the ground by the Lombards and the survivors of the terrible incursions abandoned the Roman city and built a new village, a first nucleus inhabited on the cliff that still today houses the medieval quarter. At the end of the Longobard domination, Bolsena became part of the Church's possessions and its history proceeded parallel to that of the Papacy.

The historic center has been well preserved over the centuries, it is very attractive to the visitor even if with too many commercial activities aimed at tourists who in Bolsena there is no shortage of summer species thanks to the weight of various bathing facilities along the lake. The visit to the village normally starts from the plaza princiaple where there is also the City, on one side of it is the door of San Francesco, an arch designed in 1578. After the arch you enter the main alley, very impressive, nice but also very touristy. Along this alley you can admire particular ravines, manicured entrances of houses, small Czech alleys, steep and narrow flights of stairs until you reach a small square where there is the fountain of San Rocco that remains on the right. This municipal fountain, with its bas-reliefs dating back to the end of the fifteenth century, takes the name of the saint to remember his passage to Bolsena. On the same side of the square there is a staircase that leads to the Rocca, this is the most interesting route to discover the village. The narrow staircase winds through high stone walls, stone underpasses of old houses until you reach a small door that gives access to the Rocca area. Shortly after, on the left you find that there is another access to the village (perhaps the main one) with two consecutive doors separated by a short section of road. Between these two doors there is a balcony that offers a beautiful view of the village below and the lake. Finally we reach the upper part of the village near the top of the hill, and here appears a very beautiful and characteristic little square, surrounded by buildings that develop on different heights with the Rocca dominating the area with its grandeur, stone facades of different levels, overhangs, turrets with many climbing plants and flowers (in the summer season) and a large building now visitors center of the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena. Along a short but beautiful staircase, you reach the entrance to the Rocca Monaldeschi della Cervara built at the end of the fourteenth century by the Monaldeschi family as a stronghold of their dominion over Bolsena. The plan of the Rocca is a trapezoidal shape and at its corners there are four different towers, which reveal the original Gothic structure of the building. Inside the Rocca there is the Territorial Museum of the Lake of Bolsena which contains Villanovan, Etruscan and Roman artefacts found in the area. On the side of the Rocca opens a simple but beautiful square that occupies the highest part of the hill on which stands the borbo. Also here a beautiful panoramic view. On the square there is a 15th century Gothic church of San Salvatore whose facade is dominated by two mighty bell towers.

Returning slightly back, at the Piazza della Rocca, you can visit the most historic area of the village, two parallel alleys separated by a few tens of meters that extend to the east and then rejoin the height of another ancient door access to the village. This part of the village is not very extensive and it is very pleasant to visit it, few commercial businesses, tranquility, decoration, respect for the traditions of the village, many flowered balconies, cleanliness and sociable inhabitants.

Bolsena curiosity

On the occasion of the feast of Corpus Domini, the historic center of Bolsena is covered with a floral tapestry that runs, for about two kilometers, along the entire procession route, even in the narrowest alleys of the medieval quarter. The infiorata is an initiative by groups of citizens who are involved, first in the collection of flowers, then in the creation of decorations and in the hard work of them. To keep the flowers fresh and fragrant, the harvest takes place a few days before the party and early morning when the sun is still low and it is not hot, then they are brought and stored in cool and dark places, until the moment they are used. The most common species are brooms, cornflowers, acacias, rosolacci, ròse canine, clover, thistle flowers, hops and ferns.

The Basilica of Santa Cristina is an architectural complex located just outside the present historical village even if of ancient origins (X century), the body of the Saint is guarded here and popular tradition tells that Cristina, daughter of the prefect Urban, converted to the Christian faith against the will of his father, he came to these cruel tortures from which the young girl always went unscathed glorifying God. Died Urbano, succeeded Dione and Giuliano who continued to torment Cristina in order to make her abjure, but the girl continued to leave unharmed by the martyrs, until an arrow pierced her heart, a 24th of an indefinite year, reigning Diocletian.

Bolsena considerations

Bolsena is a very well known, pleasant, lively tourist resort with a beautiful lakefront despite the overbuilding of the most external areas of the country. The center and the heart of the village is worth to be visited, has retained much of the spirit of the ancient village with magnificent views and views especially in the highest part that is that which surrounds the fortress.

Bolsena photo gallery

All the photos, albums and movies of Bolsena on this site are from Robert.
Complete photo album
of Bolsena
Complete photo slideshow
of Bolsena

Where is Bolsena


Medieval villages near Bolsena

Celleno
(Viterbo IT)
Civita Bagnoregio
(Viterbo IT)
Latera
(Viterbo IT)
Montefiascone
(Viterbo IT)

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