What to see in Tuscia? Here is a short guide to discover what to do in the province of Viterbo. Get to know the best tourist attractions of this amazing territory near Rome.
Tuscia corresponds to the territory of Viterbo, in the Upper Lazio. It is a region where you can relax while getting in touch with nature and history thanks to its lakes, woods and parks. Without forgetting food and wine!
The term “Tuscia” derives from Latin and means “the territory inhabited by the Tusci”, i.e. the Etruscans. In the past, Tuscia was divided into three areas: Roman Tuscia, Ducal Tuscia and finally Lombard Tuscia. Today it only indicates the province of Viterbo.
Are you wondering what to see in Tuscia? In the next paragraphs, we will discover the most important attractions of this territory. They range from the famous Lake Bolsena with the Bisentina and Martana islands to Capodimonte, Acquapendente, Montefiascone and Civita di Bagnoregio towns. From the Park of Monsters in Bomarzo to the local thermal springs.
Don’t worry! There is also a lot of good food & wine on offer.
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What to see in Tuscia? The most beautiful towns
There are many activities that can be carried out in these territories thanks to the great variety of the landscape.
Lake Bolsena and its town are certainly one of the most popular and sought-after destinations. Bolsena lies at the foot of the Volsini mountains and thanks to its beautiful lake and splendid village is one of the destinations not to be missed when visiting the Tuscia.
One of the town’s symbolic monuments is the Rocca Monaldeschi, which today houses the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena. The Rocca is located in the oldest village in Tuscia, Castello. From its towers it offers a breathtaking view over two islands, Martana and Bisentina, two remnants of underwater volcanic cones.
In the ancient village, the famous Basilica of Santa Cristina and the Chapel of the Miracle are also worth a visit. The latter is so called because, according to an ancient story, a large amount of blood flowed one day from the Host.
2. CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO
Leaving the territory of Bolsena, another must-see destination is Civita di Bagnoregio, nicknamed “the dying city” because of its location. In fact, the town stands on a tufa spur, which is severely tested by time and wind. This precariousness is one of the main reasons why thousands of travellers flock to this fantastic town every year. And don’t forget the romantic aspect: if you are looking for a romantic getaway, Civita di Bagnoregio is certainly for you!
A destination that offers a lot from a historical and cultural point of view is certainly Viterbo, the city with the largest medieval historical centre in Europe. Viterbo is also known as the “City of the Popes”, as evidenced by the numerous churches and basilicas in the area. The most important are the 12th-century Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Basilica of Santa Maria Nuova, one of the oldest in Viterbo. The Palazzo dei Papi (Palace of the Popes), built to house and protect the popes during their stay in Viterbo, is also noteworthy.
In the hamlet of Bagnaia is Villa Lante, described by Sitwell as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Don’t miss it! Viterbo and Tuscia also offer a wide choice of archaeological sites. You can easily visit the archaeological excavations of Ferento, with a Roman theatre that is also used for concerts and other events. There are also green areas, including the Prato Giardino, the city’s most important park, and Bullicame, a thermal water spring with therapeutic properties, which is great for relaxing and taking care of your body.
On the border between Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria, a few steps from the Via Cassia and the Via Francigena, lies Acquapendente. This is a small village that owes its tourist fortunes to the strategic position where it is located, but not only.
What to see in Tuscia if you are in Acquapendente? The town is famous for the “stone bathed in blood”, a stone that, according to tradition, came from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The relic is located in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre inside a sacellum, a structure that reproduces in miniature the church of the same name in Jerusalem.
Along the route of the Via Francigena you can find another interesting village, Montefiascone. Montefiascone is the highest town in the province of Viterbo. Thanks to this characteristic, it is easy to understand the beauty of the views from the town.
In addition to the beautiful view over Lake Bolsena, Montefiascone is home to the wonderful Cathedral of Santa Margherita, with its dome by Carlo Fontana from 1674. The oldest church in the town is the Church of Sant’Andrea, located near the town walls. However, the most representative monument of Montefiascone is the church of San Flaviano, consisting of two overlapping churches. Last but not least, we have the Rocca dei Papi, a refuge for the popes during the wars and sieges that affected Rome.
Moving south from Viterbo, near Lake Vico, we find Caprarola, a small village located in the lands of Tuscia. Thanks to the walks made to visit the village, it is possible to enjoy the uncontaminated nature that surrounds this place.
Palazzo Farnese is certainly the symbol of Caprarola. It can be reached by taking the “via dritta” (straight road) and offers a breathtaking view that will repay you for the effort you put into getting there. Other important monuments in this fantastic village are the Church of the Madonna della Consolazione and the Church of Santa Teresa.
7. CIVITA CASTELLANA
Remaining near Lake Vico we find Civita Castellana. The town stands on a tufa spur and legend has it that it was founded by Aleso, son of Agamennone. Civita Castellana offers a remarkable artistic and archaeological variety. There is no lack of sanctuaries, necropolis and temple areas.
Parks and lakes around Viterbo
The territories of Tuscia offer a wide range of activities. As you have seen, you can visit some of the most picturesque villages in Italy, with their monuments and history, but not only. What to see in Tuscia for nature lovers?
If you are in this area, you cannot miss Lake Bolsena, near the town of the same name. Moving south from Viterbo you can enjoy the fantastic landscape of Lake Vico, another popular destination for tourists. Between the two lakes, in Bomarzo, you must visit the Park of Monsters, where you can enjoy an almost surreal atmosphere among the imposing basalt sculptures that populate the park.
Here is an overview of these fantastic attractions and lots of useful advice for visiting Tuscia.
1. LAKE BOLSENA
Lake Bolsena is the fifth largest lake in Italy and the first of volcanic origin in Europe. The lake, which is entirely suitable for swimming, offers days of relaxation and tranquillity. You can go from the typical activities of canoeing, windsurfing and fishing to walking or cycling along various paths.
With the latter, it is possible to visit the two villages located near the lake: Marta, a typical fishing village with a peaceful atmosphere, and Capodimonte, a charming village with the famous Rocca Farnese to visit.
The two small islands in the lake, Martana and Bisentina, dominate the scene. Both islands are private, so it is not possible to visit them except with guided tours. They will allow you to immerse yourself in an enchanting and uncontaminated nature.
2. LAKE VICO
Lake Vico is a lake of volcanic origin in the province of Viterbo, between Mount Fogliano and Mount Venere. A protected area since 1982, belonging to the Lake Vico Nature Reserve, it is a popular destination for travellers. It is the perfect place if you are wondering what to see and do in Tuscia. Activities include swimming and hiking, with many trekking routes. There is no shortage of hang-gliding and paragliding ramps in some areas of the lake. As you can see, you are spoilt for choice!
In Bomarzo, you will find one of the most striking tourist attractions near Viterbo: the Park of Monsters, also known as the “Sacred Wood”. It was built by Vicino Orsini in the 16th century, at the foot of a natural amphitheatre.
Inside the park, you will see basalt monuments depicting monstrous and mythological animals and even gods. You will see sphinxes, the fight between Hercules and Cacus, the group of the turtle and the whale and many others. You just have to visit this fascinating place full of history, art and fantasy!
Thermal springs in the Tuscia
There is no shortage of places in which to relax and take care of oneself. The hydrothermal and hydromineral basin of Viterbo is in fact one of the most abundant in Italy. In this area, spas immersed in nature alternate with thermal establishments where it is also possible to stay.
The best-known spring is undoubtedly Bullicame, whose water flows from a natural crater in a small lake. Next we can find the Carletti Pools spring or the Masse di San Sisto thermal springs.
Don’t miss the famous Terme dei Papi and Terme di Vulci, establishments equipped with every comfort to enjoy a day of complete relaxation!
📚 If you want to know more about Italian spas, read also The best spas in Italy: relaxation not to be missed
What to do in Viterbo? Festivals, events, food and wine
Food and wine is very varied in Tuscia.
A product that is important to remember is the red garlic of Proceno, a municipality near Acquapendente, with its typical strong and spicy flavour. Acquapendente is also known for the Pungolo spelt, a food rich in fibre and protein.
When talking about Tuscia, however, it is impossible not to mention the hazelnut, a typical local food. The three main varieties cultivated are the Tonda Gentile, the Nocchione and the Tonda di Giffoni.
Typical of Lake Bolsena and Lake Vico is the lavarello, a fish better known as “coregone”. It is barbecued or grilled but can also be eaten baked or “alla mugnaia”. Other typical products of the Viterbese area are undoubtedly the olive oil of Canino and the lentils of Onano.
Then there are Tuscia sweets: ceciaroli, ravioli filled with chickpea cream, aniseed doughnuts, tozzetti and castagnole with sambuca. You just have to try them!
We also have a wide choice of fine wines. In Montefiascone is produced the EST!EST!!EST!!!, a dry white wine perfect to pair with fish dishes. In Marta, near Lake Bolsena, we find the Cannaiola, a slightly sweet red wine. Last but not least, there is the Aleatico di Gradoli, a fortified red wine that is excellent with cheese and dry pastries.
We conclude our journey to discover what to see in Tuscia by mentioning some local festivals and events. In August, the town of Caprarola hosts the Hazelnut Festival. The Biscuit Festival is instead typical of Bomarzo (in April), together with the palio of S. Anselmo. In June, you cannot miss the Cherry Festival in Viterbo.
Now that you know what to see and taste in Tuscia, I hope this virtual guide has been useful to you in appreciating this amazing land and that you choose to visit the Tuscia. 😍