Welcome to Bolsena and Montefiascone.
Here I explore the beautiful ‘alto Lazio’ (northern Lazio) and the wonderful Lake of Bolsena and the hill top town of Montefiascone, where you can enjoy the delicious and funny name Est! Est!! Est!!! white wine.
Bolsena & Montefiascone | Photo Diary
The spectacular Cupola of Montefiascone
On my first day, a local called Settimino saw me taking photos and decided to approach me. He asked where I was from and just started sharing great local info on what to see and do in and around Montefiascone, so I took notes. He started with the Cupola, one of the most important churches in the area, with one of the largest domes in Italy (27 m of diameter!). Even more amazing, it is visible from most of the towns of the Viterbo area!
The Historical Center of Montefiascone
Montefiascone is a located in the province of Viterbo, in the Lazio region (central Italy). It stands on a hill on the southeast side of Lake Bolsena, about 100 km north of Rome. Approx. 14,000 inhabitants!
Rocca dei Papi & the Torre del Pellegrino
The Rocca dei Papi in Montefiascone is rich in history and for over one hundred years represented one of the most important buildings in Italy, being used as the capital of the Papal States.
With a rapid decline, in around 1590 the fortress was considered unusable and therefore no longer used. The Rocca dei Papi dropped into oblivion of history, as Popes and emperors stopped using it as their residence. Today, you can appreciate great views over the Lake Bolsena area.
Lago di Bolsena & the Historical Center
The historical center is located 10 km (6 mi) north-north west of Montefiascone and the Lago di Bolsena is the main attraction. The lake is a crater lake, with Roman historic records indicating the Vulsini volcano was active since 104 BC and it has been dormant ever since. In the southern part of the lake, you will find two islands which were formed by underwater eruptions, after a collapse created the volcanic crater.
On one side, you will find one of the most important roads in Roman history (still used today!), the Via Cassia. One thing you may not have known, is that one third of the lake was donated to the Catholic church by the noble family Alberici of Orvieto.
The town is known for a miracle said to have occurred there in 1263, when a Bohemian priest, in doubt about the doctrine of Transubstantiation, reported bleeding from the host he had consecrated at Mass. The Orvieto Cathedral was eventually built to commemorate the miracle and house the Corporal of Bolsena. A famed fresco by Raphael and his school in the Vatican Stanze depicts the event. – Wikipedia
Enjoying some Food & Wine
Est! Est!! Est!!! is the wine of the region and centered in the comune di Montefiascone. This is a DOC since 1966 (Denominazione di origine controllata), a designation provided under Italian wine laws.
The cool story behind the name: Seems the name dates back to the 1300’s and the story says that the name came from a Bishop traveling to Rome, to visit the Pope. Along his journey, he would send a prelate ahead to check the various towns that offered the best wines. To keep count, the prelate would write ‘Est’ (latin for ‘it is’) on the doors or walls of the inns he thought had the best wines. When the Bishop stopped at Montefiascone, he loved the wine so much he wrote ‘Est! Est!! Est!!!’ on the door of that inn.
Now, not 100% sure at how ‘trustworthy’ this is but it seems to be the tale that the locals go by. We enjoyed a couple of relaxed glasses of wine at Enoteca AENOS (link) with the owners and got to try Saino Cordeschi (Lazio) and a Signae Rossobastardo (Umbria).
In my humble opinion Est! Est!! Est!! is an easy wine to drink but not incredible. I decided not to visit a winery this time around but did enjoy a great seafood dinner at Trattoria del Molo (well priced and good menu).
Where to Stay in Montefiascone
I would recommend staying in Montefiascone if staying for the weekend in the Bolsena area, as the views are special to wake up to and the prices are more reasonable.
I stayed at Palazzo Frigo in the heart of the beautiful and quaint town of Montefiascone. The views from the rooms are incredible and the staff always have a smile on their face! There is even a sauna and a roof terrace that has some incredible views.
You will love this part of Lazio, especially if you are tired of the big crowds in Rome and wanting to get away for a couple of days.
Have you been to this part of Lazio before? What did you enjoy doing in this amazing part of Italy? Share your photos and experiences of your trip in the comments below or email me!