Sunday, 7 October 2012

Alto Lazio: Bolsena

The first full day of our tour we went to Bolsena.  We were staying in a small hill town called Montefiascone which lay on the southern shore of Lake Bolsena although you could not see the lake from the main part of the town.

Bolsena town was on the opposite side of the lake and we went there by private boat.  It was a glorious day which everyone appreciated after our awful English summer.  The boat left from a small town called Capodimonte.  I had assumed this was connected to the china of that name but it appears that the Capodimontes were just a very important family.

Lake Bolsena is a volcanic lake and it reminded me of Lake Taupo where we used to spend our holidays as children.  There is a chain of volcanic lakes in this part of Italy.  We visited the largest, Trasimeno, many years ago and I have always wanted to go back.  This time we also visited another one on the last day en route back to Rome.  Crossing Lake Bolsena we circumnavigated two islands which had various religious associations.  Here is a chapel, one of three, on an outcrop that is very hard to ascend.

The town of Bolsena is very attractive and obviously a popular holiday destination.

There appears to be some uncertainty over whether Bolsena was an Etruscan town but its main claim to fame comes from the miracle that led to the doctrine of transubstaniation and the festival of Corpus Christi.

After spending some time in Bolsena visiting the main church and a palazzo, in the afternoon we travelled the short distance to Civita di Dagnoregio.  I had looked this up on Google images and realised that I would not be able to make the rather precipitous climb.  It is a virtually deserted town built on a volcanic outcrop and to me the path up to it resembled the Great Wall of China (not that I have been there).  So while the rest of the group climbed up I stayed at the bottom of the hill and took photos, then had an ice cream.

The countryside around was very rugged and in this part of Italy the towns all cling to the hill tops, many of which are volcanic outcrops.

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