Art Cities, Lazio

Bolsena

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Last Updated on March 22, 2021 by Helga Dosa

For those who want a relaxing stay, to have fun, and want to learn something about the culture, Bolsena is the ideal place. In Bolsena, you can spend a relaxing and fun holiday, and at the same time, you can discover the history and the ancient traditions of this medieval village. In this uncontaminated place, where time seems to have stopped, the tourist is welcomed with its warmth and beauties. Each day can be different from the last one; you can practice a lot of sports, go sight-seeing, discover and enjoy many views. Bolsena offers all this and much more. You can choose among a lot of activities: water sports such as sailing, fishing, swimming, and scuba diving… Do you prefer something ashore? No problem! There are other interesting and fun activities such as mountain biking, trekking, and horse-riding, tennis...

Bolsena holiday

The Lake of Bolsena from afar
The Lake of Bolsena from afar

If you are a foreigner and want to improve your Italian language, interesting language courses for foreigners are organized in collaboration with a prestigious school that works nearby. In Bolsena, you can find typical stores, pizzerias, trattorias, and high standard restaurants, where you can taste the typical specialties of the place, like the “coregone”, an important fish in the traditional cooking of Lake Bolsena.

Instead, if you feel like having something sweet and you are with your friends, there are many cafeterias, pastry shops, and ice-cream shops, where you can have a very good gelato, taste original and delicious aperitifs and try many specialties of cocktails while admiring unforgettable panoramas. Bolsena doesn’t offer only a variety of sceneries, but here many popular traditional festivals take places, such as the Corpus Christi Infiorata and Saint Cristina’s Mysteries.

Lakeside promenade on Lake Bolsena.
Lakeside promenade on Lake Bolsena. Ph. Antonello Tanteri on flickr (flic.kr/p/JuxVi)

This latter is a historical recollection of the tortures the young saint had to suffer. At night, spectacular fireworks over the lake follow the representation, creating a wonderful and unforgettable setting. Don’t miss visiting the various and fascinating historical and cultural places, such as the Church of Saint Cristina, the museum, the catacombs, the archaeological excavations, the art gallery, and the Bolsena festival exhibition.

Where to stay for a Bolsena holiday?

You can choose where you prefer to stay, either in a hotel or in a fattoria (farmhouses). Both are top quality. In farmhouses, you can spend your time relaxing and in direct contact with the surrounding countryside.

Orvieto, 20 km from Bolsena
Orvieto, 20 km from Bolsena

We also have holiday houses for the tourist who wants to stay in total peace and quiet. For the young, there are many comfortable hostels and beds and breakfasts. Along the lake coasts, there are many campsites, which have improved their accommodating facilities, satisfying the more and more demanding needs of the clients. To plan a Bolsena holiday, there’s much to be discovered!

The Infiorata

The ‘infiorata‘ is a homage to the miracle that took place in Bolsena, known all over the world as the ‘Miracle of Bolsena.’ In 1263 a Bohemian priest, traveling to Rome to resolve his doubts over the doctrine of transubstantiation, celebrated mass in the town: the communion host turned to literal flesh at the consecration, and drops of human blood spilled onto the altar cloth. He tried to hide what had happened but stains remained on the cloth and on the floor.

Video of the Bolsena Infiorata.

As a result of this Pope Urban IV 1264 instituted the feast of Corpus Christi all over the world. Every year for the feast there is a procession that passes over the infiorata, created with different kinds of flowers. The infiorata is 3 km long, there are magnificent pictures made by the young and the not-so-young people of Bolsena.

They become artists for a day: the scenes are chosen months before the feast, though the realization of the pictures is quite quick. Rose, hydrangea, and carnation petals are used, and those of brooms and bluebottles, but also less valuable flowers offer their wonderful shades such as the wild onion, acacia, chestnut, and cane inflorescences to complete the unequal harmony of colors and technical execution.

Bolsena Map
Bolsena Map

The single parts of the drawings are thus created and black sawdust is used to highlight the outlines. The obtained effect recalls the colored windows of the churches; it is a fascinating job where everyone competes for the magnificent final result that every year you can admire on Corpus Domini day, in June.

When July 2nd rolls around, hordes of tourists flock to the Lake Bolsena and its banks on the occasion of the Fishing Festival. Next to the religious house and the Chapel of the Miracle, there is a large hill below where catacombs made in the second or third century A.D. were used until the fifth century. Leaving the town by the Orvieto road where the Christians made their trek through Italy to France (Via Francigena), we eventually cross a border surrounding an area of about 4 kilometers at Poggio Moscini. This boundary marks a very ancient Etruscan wall from the fourth century B.C. while inside there are a number of monuments that are well worth the visit.

Bolsena
Bolsena. Ph. cyril chermin on flickr (flic.kr/p/cHhE6f)

The castle-fortress of Monaldeschi, built by the Orvieto authorities in the 12-15th century, looks down on the center of Bolsena. In the Middle Ages, this imposing castle that so dominates the town acted as a defensive outpost for the inland areas. The Piazza Monaldeschi has a Gothic-period temple dedicated to St Francis. Of particular interest is a crucifix of the Pastura school placed on the wall at the entrance to the temple. Are you ready for a Bolsena holiday?

By Roberto Basili, Bolsena Tourism Councillo

See also More of Bolsena’s History

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