Gradoli is situated on the northern slope of Lake Bolsena, nestled on a tuff spur at an elevation of 475 meters, surrounded by woods and ditches.
The name probably originates from the steep staircase that accessed the majestic castle built in the “Pergola” area, which in Latin is called “gradus.” Today, only a round tower integrated into a private house remains of the castle.
The first visible landmark for visitors is Palazzo Farnese, an imposing 16th-century building that stands guard over the village. It was constructed as a summer residence for Pope Paul III and the Farnese family. Within the frescoed rooms, you can visit the Museum of Farnese Costumes and explore a fascinating collection of period clothing, weapons, and tools.
Near the palace stands the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. After a fire, it was rebuilt in Baroque style and consecrated in 1708. Just outside the ancient walls, yet incorporated into the historic center, is the Church of San Pietro in Vinculis, its interior having been renovated in the 18th century.
Among other noteworthy churches are the Church of San Vittore and the Church of San Magno. The former is believed to have been built on the remains of a Roman structure situated on the road that connected the Etruscan cities of Bisenzio and Sovana. The latter, on the shores of Lake Bolsena, was established by the Order of the Knights of Malta in the 14th century.
Gradoli is full of folklore, and the most curious event not to be missed is “Tantavecchie.” In the three evenings preceding Epiphany, groups of people walk through the village streets shaking any object that makes noise with the intention of driving away witches.
On Ash Wednesday, the “Pranzo del Purgatorio” (Purgatory Lunch) takes place. In July and August, there’s the Aleatico Festival, where you can taste the DOC Aleatico wine and enjoy food stands with local products.
On August 19th, the Feast of San Magno awaits you near the lake, featuring the customary procession accompanied by musical bands.