Bolsena is a small town in the northern part of the province of Viterbo. Its exact location is at the north-eastern shore of the lake of the same name, in the foothills of the Monti Volsinii. Although this lake is obviously the city’s main tourist attraction, it is quite possible to spend a day enjoying the various cultural sights.
Bolsena city guide
To get to Bolsena by car from Viterbo you take the Via Cassia in northern direction.
Tourist Attractions Bolsena
Most tourists visit Bolsena to enjoy the lake. Tourist attractions in the city itself include a castle with a museum dedicated to this lake and a church where a miracle that would lead to a religious holiday took place. The most beautiful part of the city is the historic medieval district of Castello, with small, narrow alleys, picturesque squares and a beautiful panorama over Lago di Bolsena.
Santa Cristina Church
The Collegiate Church of Santa Cristina is dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Its present aspect is a result of restorations by order of cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici in the late 15th century. In the year 1263 the miracle of the Eucharist took place inside the church. While mass was being celebrated, the sacramental bread started bleeding. This induced Pope Urban IV to turn the Corpus Domini celebration into a catholic feast.
San Rocco Fountain
The San Rocco Fountain is located in the square of the same name and was commissioned by Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici. Every year on Aug. 16, the water from this fountain is blessed.
In the immediate vicinity of Bolsena, several necropolises have been found, dating from an era between the 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD.
Other excavations have brought to light a forum surrounded by a number of store rooms, along with a basilica and some private homes with murals and floor mosaics.
Santa Maria dle Giglio Monastery
The Santa Maria del Giglio Monastery dates from the 17th century.
Palazzo del Drago
The Palazzo del Drago used to be called the Palazzo Cozza Crispo and is Bolsena’s best-preserved 16th-century palace.
The Monaldeschi Castle (Rocca Monaldeschi) was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Monaldeschi della Cervara were given the bishopric of Bolsena in 1398 and it became Papal property again in 1451.
Museo Territoriale del lago di Bolsena
The Museo Territoriale del Lago di Bolsena is located inside the castle.
A brief history of Bolsena
There have been settlements in the area since the 3rd century BC and Bolsena was one of the most important Etruscan villages.
Later it became a Roman town and then, after a number of Lumbard invasions, the community moved to the top of the hill (where nowadays the medieval district of Castello is located).
During the Renaissance period several Popes had residencies in Bolsena.
Excavations have brought to light a forum, surrounded by shops, a big basilica and a number of private houses with intricate floor mosaics and interesting wall-paintings.
How to get to Bolsena by car
To get to Bolsena by car from Rome or Viterbo you take the Via Cassia in northern direction.