The Art of Wandering Around
Paul has mastered the art of wandering around on vacation. Now that he’s here, long-ignored questions like “wonder what’s there?” are being pursued. The resulting cruise is usually interesting, delicious, or both.
One day, we started our ramble in Bolsena (on the north shore of Lake Bolsena) and found a sure sign of summer’s approach – Bella Pizza, the shop that advertises pizza a taglio, was open! Taglio means “cut,” so this is pizza by the slice.
Bella Pizza is a worthwhile, if inelegant, stop. The varieties are plentiful and interesting and the pizza very fresh. If the server asks “caldo?,” nod your head and she’ll heat it up for you.
Bella Pizza is located a few blocks up from the lake and just below the town’s historic center, which we hadn’t yet explored. So we climbed the hill after our lunch to see what was up there. We weren’t disappointed by the narrow cobblestone streets, the castle, and requisite historic church.
Then we looked for a way to drive around the lake. Part of the route is a dirt road, and all of it was beautiful. We drove through olive groves, commercially cultivated flowers, and campgrounds that are no doubt busy during the summer. Judging by the signs on the closed snack (and beer) bars in one section, we guessed it to be a favorite spot for German visitors. We stopped to stroll around Capodimonte and Marta, a couple of small towns right on the lake.
We left the lake at Montefiascone, which is a beautiful hill town with a rich history as a papal possession. Those popes lived well. A walk around the castle shows just how well. And what’s a picturesque Italian town without its own wine? Montefiascone’s is Est! Est!! Est!!!
Our last stop before heading home was the Bosco dei Mostri (“Monster’s Grove”) in Bomarzo. What a sight! And what a beautiful respite on a warm afternoon. It’s difficult to describe Bosco dei Mostri. A Renaissance amusement park? Lush gardens interspersed with mossy grotesques? If you have time to watch a video, you’ll get the idea.
A grieving husband dedicated these fantasmagoric gardens to the memory of his late wife, who, by the looks of the place, must have been a piece of work!
For anyone keeping track of such things, Bella Pizza is reachable from the lake by taking the main drag (Via Antonio Gramsci) up a few blocks to Bolsena’s bustling main piazza and following that road to the second side street on the right. To reach the Bosco from Bolsena, you’d follow the signs to Montefiascone, then Viterbo, and then Orte until the turn-off for Bomarzo, where you’ll see Bosco dei Mostri signs.
Here’s what our route looked like: