Sant’Angelo di Roccalvecce – The Fairy Tale Village (Lazio)
Drive time 10 minutes
In 2017 Sant’Angelo began to transform itself from a semi-abandoned hamlet to a fairy tale village whose houses are now adorned with giant fairy tale murals. The project was supported by ACAS cultural association with the support of many local people and talented street artists.
Civita di Bagnoregio (Lazio)
Drive time 20 minutes
The extraordinary “Dying City” is a 20 minutes drive from The Yellow House. Approximately 12 people live in the tiny group of houses that sit on top of a hill formed when the surrounding land crumbled away after earthquakes that started in 1695. It is now connected to Bagnoregio by a large footbridge; the views of the surrounding areas are spectacular.
Il Borgo Fantasma (ghost village) – Celleno old town (Lazio)
Drive time 20 minutes
The medieval hilltop town in old Celleno was abandoned in the 1950s together with Castello Orsini. In recent years it has been restored, and artefacts of daily living discovered during excavation are now displayed for the public. The ghost town was used as a backdrop to the 2020 NetFlix series ‘Luna Nera’ (Black Moon).
The town of Bolsena (Lazio)
Drive time 30 minutes
Is a beautifully kept medieval town with some fascinating historical sites including Etruscan remains. There are several excellent restaurants and bars in the town and by the lake and some lovely artisan shops selling local products and hand-made goods.
“Bolsena, Everything You Need to Know” is the first comprehensive book written in English about Bolsena and the surrounding area, it was written by an English journalist staying in Bolsena in the Summer of 2003 and published in April 2004. Fleur gives a fascinating insight to the local customs and invaluable practical information about how to make the most of your stay
The Castle – Bolsena
The castle with its square plan and corner towers, has been completely restored and renovated. Since 1991 it has been the home of the Museo Territoriale del Lago di Bolsena (Lake Bolsena Territorial Museum) with three floors of exhibits and displays that cover the history of the area from the time it was an active volcano to the present day. The castle ramparts offer spectacular views of the town and Lago Bolsena.
The Church of Santa Cristina
Beneath the church of Santa Cristina is an impressive complex of paleochristian burials or catacombs, 9 deep and over 100m long with several lateral corridors. To access the catacombs visit the ticket office inside the church to the left, entry costs a small fee. Opening times vary and don’t always correspond to the advertised times, so check with the ticket office.
Mysteries of Santa Cristina – Bolsena 23rd and 24th July.
Santa Christina is the patron saint of Bolsena. In the early 4th Century Christina’s father attempted to drown her and she was tortured in an attempt to dissuade her from following Christianity. Each year, on the evening of 23rd and the morning of 24th July silent scenes (tableaux vivants) from her life are presented on wooden stages around the town. At the end of the second day, an image of Santa Christina is seen floating away on the lake with the backdrop of fireworks.
The tomb and relics of Santa Cristina
In the Grotto of Santa Cristina is a terracotta sculpture by Benedetto Buglioni, Santa Cristina lies on a tomb with a sculptural depiction of the rock used in an attempt to drown her at the age of 11. Below her sculpture is her tomb in which a 4th century sarcophagus is said to hold her relics. Also in the chapel, immortalised in a wall, are her footprints at the time of her failed drowning.
Chapel of the Eucharistic Miracle – in the church of Santa Cristina
The Miracle of the Eucharist (celebrated as The Feast of Corpus Christi)
In 1263 a German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe that Christ was present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of the martyr Saint Cristina (in Bolsena’s church Santa Cristina), he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal, the small cloth upon which the host and chalice rest during the Canon of the Mass. The priest was immediately confused.
At first, he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighbouring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urbano IV was then residing. The Pope listened to the priest’s account and absolved him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the corporal relics placed in Orvieto cathedral where they are enshrined and exhibited today.
Pope Urbano IV, a year later, in 1264, extended the feast to the whole Catholic world, the miracle is now celebrated as The Feast of Corpus Christi on the 9th Sunday after Easter.
In the Vatican the marvel is commemorated by Raphael’s fresco “The Miracle at Bolsena”
In the church of Santa Cristina, the miracle is depicted in a painting by Francesco Trevisani above the main altarpiece in the Chapel of the Eucharist. On the altar, a gilded frame, created in 1940 displays a blood-stained stone, said to be a relic of the miracle (The Eucharist itself is on display in the Orvieto Cathedral).
The Infiorata (flower festival) – Bolsena
Each year on 9th Sunday after Easter, to celebrate the The Feast of Corpus Christi, the streets of Bolsena are lined with millions of flower petals arranged in intricate mosaics. A procession follows the path of flowers.
Hyrangea festival – Bolsena
End of June, check with Cristina for dates.
Fish festival – Bolsena
2nd weekend of July. Each year fish from the lake are cooked on barbecues along the shore of the lake accompanied by music and dancing.
Drive time 35 minutes
Is a beautifully preserved example of a walled, medieval city. In the 13th Century it was once home to the Pope. There are many spectacular buildings to see, including the Gothic Palazzo Papale and the cathedral, Chiesa di San Lorenzo. Viterbo is a 40 minute drive from The Yellow House. The main shopping street Corso Italia is a great place to shop for clothes, antiques and all things Italian. Shops are closed on Monday mornings and reopen at 4 or 5 depending on the season.
Drive time 1 hour 15 minutes
“Tarquinia is the pick of Lazio’s Etruscan towns. The highlight is the magnificent Unesco-listed necropolis and its extraordinary frescoed tombs, but there’s also a fantastic Etruscan museum (the best outside of Rome) and an atmospheric medieval centre.
Legend suggests that Tarquinia was founded towards the end of the Bronze Age in the 12th century BC. Later home to the Tarquin kings of Rome before the creation of the Roman Republic, it reached its prime in the 4th century BC, before a century of struggle ended with surrender to Rome in 204 BC.
Local information is available at the friendly tourist office in the town’s medieval gate.” Lonely Planet Guide to Tarquinia
Drive time 40 minutes
“Sitting astride a volcanic plug of rock above fields streaked with vines, olive and cypress trees, Orvieto is visually stunning from the first. Like the love child of Rome and Florence and nestled midway between the two cities, history hangs over the cobbled lanes, medieval piazzas and churches of this cinematically beautiful city. And few cathedrals in Italy can hold a candle to its wedding cake of a Gothic cathedral, which frequently elicits gasps of wonder with its layers of exquisite detail” Lonely Planet Guide to Orvieto
Goose Palio – Orvietio
Is held at the end of May and is a game of horse riding skills that takes place on Piazzo del Popolo on an earth road where cavaliers of the two ancient rival districts fight for the Palio of District and Individual Paliotto.
Palombella festival – Orvieto
On Whitsunday was introduced in the 15th Century by the Monaldeschi family. Each year a shrine depicting the Empyrean and a white dove is placed upon the Lantern of the Church of San Francisco. A Gothic tabernacle portraying the Cenacle is laid on the Cathedreal steps. At midday fireworks issue from the Empyrean while the dove descends towards the tabernacle along a wire. Auspices for the year are drawn according to the way the ceremony proceeds.
The feast of Corpus Christi – Orvieto
Is held each year on the 9th Sunday after Easter, a feast day inspired by “The Miracle at Bolsena” in 1263 and initiated by Pope Urbano IV. A Medieval procession celebrates the Eucharist.
Jaz festival – Orvieto
Last days of December and into the new year.
Civitella del Lago (Umbria)
Drive time 35 minutes
A well preserved, quiet hill top town with a spectacular view of lake Corbara and the surrounding area, one can just see the dome of Montefiascone Cathedral in the distance. There is a bar and restaurant where you can sit and enjoy the panoramic view. Civitella del Lago is about half way between Civitella d’Agliano and Todi.
Drive time 1 hour
“A collage of soft-stone houses, palazzi and belfries pasted to a hillside, Todi looks freshly minted for a fairy-tale. Wandering its steeply climbing backstreets is like playing a game of medieval snakes and ladders. The pace of life inches along, keeping time with the wildflowers and vines that seasonally bloom and ripen in the valley below.
Like rings around a tree, Todi’s history can be read in layers: the interior walls show Todi’s Etruscan and even Umbrian influence, the middle walls are an enduring example of Roman know-how, and the ‘new’ medieval walls boast of Todi’s economic stability and prominence during the Middle Ages.” Lonely Planet Guide to Todi
Drive time 1 hour 30 minutes
“As if cupped in celestial hands, with the plains spreading picturesquely below and Monte Subasio rearing steep and wooded above, the mere sight of Assisi in the rosy glow of dusk is enough to send pilgrims’ souls spiralling to heaven. It is at this hour, when the pitter-patter of daytripper footsteps have faded and the town is shrouded in saintly silence, that the true spirit of St Francis of Assisi, born here in 1181, can be felt most keenly.” Lonely Planet Guide to Assisi
Distance 80 km
Drive time 1 hour 20 minutes
“Lifted by a hill above a valley patterned with fields, where the Tiber River runs swift and clear, Perugia is Umbria’s petite and immediately likeable capital. Its centro storico (historic centre) rises in a helter-skelter of cobbled alleys, arched stairways and piazzas framed by magnificent palazzi (mansions). History seeps through every shadowy corner of these streets and an aimless wander through them can feel like time travel.
Back in the 21st century, Perugia is a party-loving, pleasure-seeking university city, with students pepping up the nightlife and filling cafe terraces. The hopping summer event line-up counts one of Europe’s best jazz festivals. Together with its spiritual sister, Assisi, Perugia is a candidate for European Capital of Culture 2019. Watch this space.” Lonely Planet Guide to Perugia
Drive time 1 hour and 10 minutes
“Check your car mirrors before screeching to a halt and indulging in an orgy of photography on the approach to this spectacularly sited hilltop stronghold. Organically sprouting from a volcanic rocky outcrop towering over the surrounding country, Pitigliano is surrounded by gorges on three sides, constituting a natural bastion completed to the east by a man-made fort. Within the town, twisting stairways disappear around corners, cobbled alleys bend tantalisingly out of sight beneath graceful arches and quaint stone houses are crammed next to each other in higgledy-piggledy fashion.
Originally built by the Etruscans, Pitigliano came under Roman rule before becoming a fiefdom of the wealthy Aldobrandeschi and Orsini families; the Orsinis, who were from Rome, enlarged the fortress, reinforced the defensive walls and built the imposing aqueduct. Their rule came to an end in 1608 when the town was absorbed into the grand duchy of Tuscany under Cosimo I de’ Medici.
In 1944, 88 local residents were killed and many buildings were damaged during Allied bombings. A plaque near Piazza della Repubblica commemorates the victims.” Lonely Planet Guide to Pitigliano
Drive time 1 hour 40 minutes
“The rivalry between historic adversaries Siena and Florence continues to this day, and participation isn’t limited to the locals – most travellers tend to develop a strong preference for one over the other. These allegiances often boil down to aesthetic preference: while Florence saw its greatest flourishing during the Renaissance, Siena’s enduring artistic glories are largely Gothic.” Lonely Planet Guide to Sienna
Drive time 1 hour 30 minutes
“History, human genius and the hot midday sun have conspired to make Rome one of the world’s most seductive and thrilling cities.” Lonely Planet Guide to Rome
It’s easy to reach by train from either Alviano, Orte or Orvieto stations. Alviano station is a 20 minute drive from the house and has an automatic ticket machine in the waiting room. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to buy your tickets. Trains run infrequently from here so it best to have an idea of train times before setting off. You will need to punch each ticket before you get on the train, punching machines are on the wall in the waiting room. Trains run more frequently from both Orte and Orvieto stations.
The Island of Gilgio
Is a beautiful, unspoilt island just west of Mount Argentario. With an early start you can enjoy the beaches with crystal clear water, restaurants and natural beauty of the island in one day. The Island is only 2 miles across and 5 miles long. It takes about 2 hours to drive to Porto Stefano on Monte Argentario from where you can take a ferry to the island. If you prefer a more leisurely approach there is plenty of accommodation on the island.