The town of Bolsena dates back to the 3rd century B.C . On the hill above the main street is the “Castle Quarter” an intact medieval area dominated by the impressive Palazzo Farnese, once a meeting place for academics, nobles and musicians.
Entering the main square at the bottom of town
We climbed the very steep pathway to the top of the hill for stunning views out over the town and Lake Bolsena, the largest volcanic lake in Europe. At the top we entered the “Castle Quarter feeling as though we had stepped back in time or into a fairy tale. There were even a prince and princess . . . well, really a bride and groom but it added to the fairy tale feel. How would it feel to live in a castle?
Up and up and up to reach the castle
Alluring front door near the top
Still going up
Here comes the bride
Lake Bolsena from the Castle
Castle of Bolsena
The narrow lanes were lined with homes, boutique shops, artist workshops, restaurants and of course churches.
Walking through town we noticed La Carrareccia flags, banners and tee shirts were everywhere and finally learned “La Carrareccia” is a non-competitive road cycling event providing 5 different levels of difficulty from easy 54 km course with 530 m elevation change to an extremely difficult course of 160 km with 2,700 elevation change. We had noticed a number of cyclists on the roads driving into Bolsena and likely they were part of this event. There was an amazing amount of community support for this event, every shop was selling some type of memento related to the event. We purchased tee shirts that are pretty cool, the cycle graphic included the names of all the participating towns and villages.
THE WINERIES OF ORVIETO
The day was young so we decided to drive on and visit a couple of wineries in Orvieto just 30 minutes away. Orvieto was programmed into the Garmon and it proceeded to direct down what I would describe as a narrow one-way alley, definitely not the main road to Orvieto, we had missed a turn somewhere and were now locked into this narrow track without the ability to turn around. So the 30-minute drive took over an hour. Not happy.
Orvieto in the distance
The beautiful Duomo of Orvieto dominates the skyline and announces that you have arrived, however, we just wanted to visit a tasting room or two today so again programmed the name of one into the Garmon and went off on another wild goose chase that ended up on what I can only describe as a donkey road in the middle of a vineyard with no tasting room in sight. The path was rocky, rugged, rutted and too narrow to even think about turning around without rolling down the hill so we just kept going – we were driving a VW van.
Donkey path through the vineyard
Finally we found a wide spot and turned around, happy to be on our way down the mountain; the view was beautiful across the vineyards was beautiful.
Across the vineyards
Safely back on pavement we followed signs this time to another tasting room and actually found it, a lovely building up on the side of the hill. We parked and went inside. The door was open, good sign, but no one was around, it looked like the main reception room. We walked around the building, found the tasting room but again the door was open, lights were out and not a soul in sight. We took our time exploring the building and grounds hoping someone would show up, there were a few other cars in the parking lot but no one ever came.
Laconia Palazzine Winery
It was a strange afternoon and we headed home to open our own bottle of wine and wash away the road dust.