Along the “Farnese territory” to revive the Middle Ages through the typical narrow streets, the Romanesque churches and castles built in a panoramic position on tufa hills.
On the border with Tuscany, in what is called the Lazio Maremma, there is the production territory of Canino PDO, an unexpected tourist discovery, between plains where cereals are grown and hills covered with olive groves, ancient Etruscan vestiges and sumptuous Medieval villas telling centuries of history.
The territory is nestled between the valley of the Marta river, the middle valley of the river Fiora and Lake Bolsena. These places are also known as “Farnese territory” after the family that owned several estates and villages in the area. More than fifteen towns in the province of Viterbo are linked to the Farnese, a powerful family since the Middle Ages that became authoritative in the Renaissance when Cardinal Alexander, born in Canino, a town lying between Bolsena and the sea, embraced the ecclesiastical career and became pope under the name of Paul III, disrupting the military tradition of the family.
Apart from the well-known town of Tarquinia, preserving a priceless heritage in its painted tombs, among the treasures of Etruscan Lazio there is Tuscania with its rock tombs and the Vulci Archaeological Park.
Tuscania, offering breathtaking views from its medieval walls offers, is distinguished by the many Etruscan necropolis revealing the types of tombs adopted by the Etruscan over time and witnessing the vitality of this town since the 7th century B.C.
On the banks of the Fiora river, in the territory of Canino, lies the old town of Vulci, one of the largest and most powerful Etrurian city-states with well-preserved Etruscan and Roman ruins. It was an economically thriving town thanks to the trade with Greece and the Far East, as evidenced by the splendid funerary objects found in the nearby necropolises, now kept in museums around the world. Worth a visit are the François Tomb and the Rotunda Tomb.
For archaeology fans, a quick detour from Tarquinia, on the way to Rome, leads to the town of Cerveteri and more precisely to the Banditaccia necropolis, the best example of Etruscan funerary architecture. The visit is a real journey through the streets and “houses” of the dead. Thanks to audio-visual projections, virtual reconstructions, lighting and sound effects, 3D videos, it is possible to revive the true atmosphere of that time.
From Tarquinia, along the Via Aurelia, there is the town of Montalto di Castro (that includes the territory of Vulci) and with an eastward detour, one enters the PDO production area.
Almost teetering on the brink of a ravine is Canino. The town mentioned for the first time in a papal bull of the 9th century B.C. by Pope Leo IV.
At the beginning of the 19th century, it hosted Lucien Bonaparte who was awarded the title of Prince of Canino. The tomb of the prince is located in the Bonaparte Chapel, within the collegiate of Saints John and Andrew Apostles dating back to the late 18th century. Inside the church it is possible to admire some Baroque canvases by Domenico Corvi and Monaldo Monaldi and a Nativity by the school of Perugino. Worth a visit is also the Farnese Fortress, birthplace of Pope Paolo III, restored at the beginning of the 19th century on the drawings of architect Valadier.
Tessennano is one of the smallest towns in the province of Viterbo, while Arlena and Ischia di Castro are surrounded by olive groves and wheat fields. Clinging on a spur of tufa rock overlooking a marvelous landscape, the village of Cellere offers passionate stories that are lost between truth and legend, the Museum of Banditry with the fascinating story of the bandit Triburzi known for his raids and picaresque exploits. The trip ends with a visit to the town of Farnese that, like the surrounding territory, is strictly linked to the fate of the homonymous noble family.
Farnese boasts ancient origins, but only during the 11th century, the town, still called Farneto, experienced the gradual standing out of that noble family after which it was later renamed.
During this period, the Farnese, brave leaders and good diplomats, were vassals at the service of the Municipality of Orvieto, but had already distinguished themselves fighting alongside the papal army to defend the territories usurped by various Ghibelline families.
Under the Farnese, the town began to grow and experienced a long period of splendor, culminating in the inclusion within the powerful Duchy of Castro by Pope Paul III.
Due to the alacrity of the Farnese, who tried in every way to improve the architectural appearance of the town, in 1596 the restoration work of the very old St. Salvator’s Parish church began and four new altars were built. Located just outside Farnese, towards Manciano, the Selva del Lamone, often impenetrable, is a natural refuge for many animal species that find a shelter in the clearings bordering the thick wood.