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GARDENS AND HISTORICAL VILLAS, THE TREASURES OF TUSCIA

Wherever you look, Tuscia is synonymous with natural beauty and historical significance. This has been made possible by the presence, in the past, of some of the greatest Italian families, such as the Farnese, Orsini, and Monaldeschi, not to mention the Popes who even chose Viterbo as the papal seat between 1257 and 1281, preferring it over Rome.

It’s easy for tourists to be captivated by places like Caprarola, dominated by the majestic Farnese Palace, created thanks to the genius of Vignola. Its atypical pentagonal shape, as well as its colorful frescoes, make this building a true gem, admired by the whole world. Attached to this “villa,” the so-called “Orti farnesiani” are must-see Italian Renaissance gardens, created with a system of terraces and rich in statues and architectural works unique in their kind. A place where our minds can wander through the avenues of history, reaching ancient times and forgotten secrets. A few kilometers away, in the village of Vignanello, the Ruspoli Castle and its well-maintained grand gardens are another must-see attraction.

Speaking of history and gardens, we arrive at Villa Lante in Bagnaia, in the Municipality of Viterbo, another great example of Vignola’s mastery. Here we find the most famous Italian Renaissance gardens ever, characterized by geometric shapes formed by hedges and enriched by statues and numerous fountains, like the Fountain of the Moors or the Fountain of Pegasus.

Commissioned by Cardinal Gambara, who gave his surname to one of the two twin casini (small houses) that can be visited inside the gardens, Villa Lante is a true unmissable jewel and one of the most important historical locations in Italy. Moreover, the entire area is surrounded by an extensive park, open to the public for free, where we can relax, take long walks, and let children play in total tranquility.

Before the next stop, nature lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the Viterbo agricultural estate “Petrignanum,” known for the production of exceptional extra virgin olive oil and for offering those who wish the chance to stay in a place far from stress and immersed in the green fields and gardens.

Continuing, a visit to the nearby Civita di Bagnoregio is a must, a magical and enchanting place, one of the most famous in the world. The so-called “Dying City,” perched on a small rock spur and connected to the surrounding world by a long and narrow bridge, immediately evokes the image of an island suspended in the sky. Within its ancient walls, numerous historical palaces can be found, as well as private gardens still inhabited. Visiting it means taking a real plunge into the past, letting oneself be infected by a place outside of time that seems to exist only in the realm of imagination.

In the vicinity, enthusiasts of local cuisine can experience the delights of the restaurant “C’era una volta… l’Hostaria,” characterized by the presence of local products such as piciarelli (a type of pasta), wild boar, truffles, dishes based on porcini mushrooms, and more.

From Bagnoregio, our gaze is lost in the view of the magnificent Valle dei Calanchi that surrounds it, until we reach the small medieval village of Lubriano, which awaits us with its historic alleys, artisan shops, and the illustrious Monaldeschi Palace, a historical residence from the 17th century that belonged to the notable Orvieto family, one of the most influential of its time.

Our journey through villas and gardens cannot conclude without first reaching another perfectly preserved medieval village renowned for its natural heritage: Bolsena.

From above, its castle dominates the houses that reach the shores of Lake Bolsena through a labyrinth of alleyways and squares that are always colorful due to festivals, events, and the passage of numerous tourists. An animated view, almost reminiscent of a poem by Carducci. Right here, in the historic center, we encounter another unmissable historical residence: the 16th-century Palazzo dei Conti Cozza Caposavi di Bolsena. Today, the “VesConte,” is the only Italian structure that Forbes included in its list of the 19 best new hotels in the world in 2019. A national heritage erected in 1561, which over the years has hosted distinguished guests such as Stendhal, Marconi, Fellini, members of royal and European families, and even two Popes.

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