Sutri, a town of ancient origins probably date back to the Bronze Age, situated about 30 km south of Viterbo, preserves: the Cathedral, one of the most impressive monuments of the Lombard period, in which the visitor is enveloped by a sense of strong religiosity among columns and capitals reused with wisdom.
The Patrimonium Museum, set up in the environments of a building of the fifteenth century that housed the old hospital, houses finds from the Roman period to the early Renaissance.
Of particular interest is the archaeological protected area of the Archaeological Park of Sutri. Proto-historic remains and chamber tombs of VI-IV century BC witness the Pre-Roman settlement. The main ruins date back to Roman times.
Next to the Via Cassia develops the necropolis, with tombs that constitute one of the most important and significant example of Roman tombs carved into the tufa rock. The Amphitheater, of circular plan and entirely carved in stone is perhaps the most interesting monument. Nearby, the Mitreo, located within the medieval church of the Madonna del Parto and entirely carved into the tufa, which is characterized by small underground rooms, bad lighting and no exterior architectural elements that allow to presume its presence.
Vetralla is a town, passed over thecenturies first under the Etruscans, then Roman and finally a settlement of the Barbarians.
In the Etruscan period, Vetralla was probably one of the many small settlements scattered in the area. Next to Vetralla, as well as in Norchia, we find traces of Etruscan settlements at Cave Porcina (sixth century BC), Mount Panese and Cajana Valley.
Situated along the route of the Via Clodia, the necropolis of Grotta Porcina (VII – III century BC.) consists of several tombs, an imposing mound with Access Bridge to the summit, a huge chamber tomb with ceiling drawers and numerous chamber tombs simple with central beam and depositions side.
In Roman times, it was home to a “mansion” of the Via Cassia and is, in fact, indicta in ancient itineraries.
During the Middle Ages, the Orsini, Di Vico, the Anguillara and the Farnese Families ruled it. The Di Vico Family left some witnesses as the sarcophagus for the son of Giacomo Di Vico, the last Lord of Vetralla, in the Church of St. Francis and a castle. Innocent III gave t the city a vast expanse of forests in 1206, but this causes of a long dispute with Viterbo who claimed its possession. In order to prevent a recurrence of such disputes, every year the council organizes a ceremony in the woods of Monte Fogliano during which the mayor marries a tree, hence the name of “the wedding ceremony of the tree”. The typical products of Vetralla that you can taste during a brief stop come from the western slope of the Cimini Mountains, at the foot of Mount Fogliano: an excellent extra virgin olive oil, wine, vegetables, and beef.
Entering the city of Viterbo, the capital of Tuscia, is like stepping into the past to discover the wonders and traditions of a city designated as a refuge of the Popes. Inside the Palace of the Popes, the most important monument of the town that still offers tourists the intact charm of its medieval splendor, was celebrated the first conclave in the history. Squares, alleys, churches and building exude history.
Inevitable is a walk in the Quartiere San Pellegrino, a symbol of the ancient medieval town. It is an interesting overview of the thirteenth century architecture, with its towers, squares, alleys, arches and characteristic profferli. Also to be mentioned is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the Church of Santa Rosa, Rocca Albornoz, home of the National Etruscan Museum, and Piazza del Plebiscito, which houses the Palazzo dei Priori, the Palace of the Captain of the People and the Clock Tower.
Viterbo also has a rich variety of dishes, such as the acquacotta, a simple but very tasty first dish made with stale bread, wild vegetables and cod. The traditional dish par excellence is, instead, the Pignattaccia, a stew baked. If, however, you prefer to discover the other beauties of the Tuscia, before leaving the city enjoy a “sweet break” choosing among the many local sweets, such as for example, the Bread of the Bishop, macaroni with walnuts, ravioli with ricotta, damselfish Sambuca or donuts.
On Lake Bolsena, following the road running along the stretch of water clockwise, we arrive in the city of Bolsena. We are welcomed by the beauty of the towers of the Fortress of the Monaldeschi, now home to the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena, which exhibits many archaeological and nature of the territory; in the the Museum you can also visit the new Aquarium, which opened in 2011.
Visiting the old town deserves a special attention the Basilica of Santa Cristina, built in the eleventh century, which represents the symbol of the town. In 1263, this church hosted the miracle of the blood flowing during the celebration of Mass.
Bolsena is also the ideal place to taste the specialties of the lake including whitefish, eel and a fish soup called Sbroscia.
From the top of a hill overlooking the crater of Lake Bolsena, we could see Montefiascone, a town famous for wine EST! EST!!EST!!!, one of the famous Doc produced in Lazio. According to tradition, the name of this wine is to be attributed to the bearer of the bishop Johannes Defuk who, in 1111, went before the high priest on the way to Rome, tasting the wine and leaving a message on the door of the inn for his master: ‘EST’ (“there is”, in Latin) if the wine was very good, In Montefiascone he wrote ‘EST EST’. When Martin arrived in Montefiascone and tasted the wine he was enraptured, much to report its excellence, writing on the inn EST! EST!! EST!!! with lots of exclamation points, hence the name of the wine. You have to taste the famous wine even accompanied by dishes of fish.
Interesting to see are the Basilica of San Flaviano (XI-XV century), where the bishop Defuk was buried and where one can read, on the tombstone of granite gray, the inscription: “For too much EST! here lies dead my master Johannes Defuk”, the Cathedral of Santa Margherita where we can admire the third largest dome in Italy, and the remains of the Fortress of the Popes, home to the Museum of Architecture, as well as the imposing medieval Castle.
The charming town of Bagnoregio is famous for its hamlet, Civita, known as “the dying town” because of the erosion of rock that undermines the base of the spur on which it rests.
Once in Bagnoregio, go to the village of Civita, accessible only by a footbridge overlooking the breathtaking valley, and let transport yourself by the atmosphere of its streets. Crossing the ancient Porta S. Maria towards Piazza S. Donato where you can admire the Romanesque Cathedral, which houses a precious wooden crucifix of the fifteenth century, and a fresco of the school of Perugino.
Enjoy the picturesque Valle dei Calanchi panorama: from the eastern cliff of Civita di Bagnoregio you will enjoy the beautiful and impressive display of the “Ponticelli”, huge walls in natural clay, the last track of an erosion process started thousands of years ago and not yet finished.
Also worth a visit, the small Museum of Rural Life set in a cave of Etruscan.