Bolsena Lake - the largest volcanic lake in Europe

The large body of water of Lake Bolsena with its 114 square kilometers of surface is the largest volcanic lake in Europe. It has its origins hundreds of thousands of years ago, when fractures were created in the area in formation that caused explosions, with the leakage of ashes, lapilli, pozzolana and large lava flows.

Subsequently, the release of large quantities of materials caused the underground to be emptied with the consequent sinking of the surface crust and the formation of the caldera, which over the course of tens of thousands of years will form the catchment basin that will give life to Lake Bolsena. During a later volcanic activity, explosions occurred inside the lake which gave rise to the formation of the two islands, Martana and Bisentina, which mark the vast lake surface with dark green.

Lake Bolsena is completely bathing and recognized as one of the cleanest in Europe. The waters are crystal clear. The depth touches 150 meters at the deepest point. On Lake Bolsena it is allowed to sail motor and sailing boats.

The waters of Lake Bolsena, already clean, due to the absence in the surroundings of polluting industries and the presence of numerous underwater springs, are today particularly clear and clear thanks to an imposing and sophisticated purification system managed by a consortium of participating municipalities. part of the lake basin. The mild climate is particularly suitable for children and the elderly.

On the lake you can practice many sports, from sailing and motor sailing, to water skiing and windsurfing. Lake Bolsena is also renowned for sport fishing opportunities.

Along the boulevards and the lakeside of the coastal towns, cycle paths allow long bike rides and beautiful walks on flat and shaded paths.

There are numerous restaurants, trattorias, pubs and pizzerias where you can taste the gastronomic delicacies of the area. When it comes to eating and drinking on the shores of Lake Bolsena, the pride of place goes to freshwater fish, precious and tasty; These were already known and renowned since ancient times. Eels, whitefish, perch, tench, pike, lattarini, roach, mullet and trout.

The typical dish of the fishermen of Lake Bolsena, available in specialized trattorias is the sbroscia, a fish soup for the preparation of which are used slices of tench, pike, eel, perch (whitefish and lattarini may be added to cooking if almost complete because they have the tenderest meats), combined with slices of potatoes, onion and mint, all seasoned with olive oil, salt and chilli. Once cooked, the sbroscia will be served on slices of stale or toasted bread.

The perch, with its tasty and very delicate meats, is usually reduced to fillets that are exquisite, both fried and cooked with mugnaia. The whitefish is served roasted on the grill or boiled and accompanied by sauces, green or not.
With the fresh vegetables that grow luxuriantly in the gardens on the shores of the lake, tasty summers of zucchini, fresh beans, celery, carrots, beets, cabbage, green beans and ripe tomatoes are prepared in the summer. The same vegetables can be tasted in pinzimonio or mixed with aromatic and wild herbs, in fresh salads.
In winter, the local cuisine favors dried pulses, beans, lentils, chickpeas and broad beans which, combined with pasta, form tasty and nutritious unique dishes, ideal for those who follow the Mediterranean diet.

The local cuisine on the shores of Lake Bolsena also favors pasta that is prepared in a traditional way even at home.
Lombrichelli, potato gnocchi, fettuccine and pappardelle, all seasoned with rich ragu and grated pecorino.
If fish such as perch, whitefish, lattarini, tench are the masters on the table, even meat has a place of primary importance, especially those of pork, treated and cooked in a thousand ways, sausages, chops, ribs, fegatelli, hams and the typical porchetta, seasoned with wild fennel.
Lamb is also highly prized, cooked in the oven, scottadito (on the grill) and stewed.
Appetizing appetizers are usually made, as well as from assorted locally produced cured meats, such as coppa, lonza, lombetto and prosciutto, from bruschetta variously seasoned with garlic, oil and salt, with tomato and basil, with liver pie, with olive paste and artichokes, etc.
Some of the desserts commonly enjoyed in this area are truly artisanal and unique, such as the tozzetti and maccheroni with walnuts, a dessert that also serves as a first course on Christmas Eve, Easter pizzas with a thousand fragrant ingredients and pancakes of rice, typical of the feast of St. Joseph.

Needless to say, every typical dish deserves a local wine to accompany it, from the EST EST EST of Montefiascone, dry and sweet, to the robust wines that come from the union of different grape varieties that thrive on the flanks of the Volsini hills, from the red cane plant of Marta with liqueur, aromatic Aleatico di Gradoli.

The Martana Island: Martana Island rises in front of the town of Marta. Like the Bisentina island, this was a free community in the Middle Ages, and then began to follow the events of the Papacy. Compared to the other island, the Martana is harsher but, in certain seasons, very suggestive from a landscape point of view. Currently it is possible to admire the island closely with boats but it is not possible to land because the island is owned by a private individual.

The Martana Island, which in the Middle Ages saw a religious life flourish, is remembered for the tragic story of Amalasunta, daughter of Theodoric and Queen of the Goths. This, on the death of his father Teodorico, according to his dispositions, took the regency of the Ostrogothic kingdom, being his son Atalaricus still in a minor age, for about nine years (526-535). Despite the regency of a woman not responding to any tradition and that of Amalasunta was imposed by Theodoric, the woman, remembered by the sources "learned and with a manly soul", participated directly in the political activity of direction of the kingdom. He restored good relations with Byzantium and favored the Roman element. Once the Ostrogoth nobility took root, she was forced to divide the kingdom with her cousin Theodatus, from whom she was later assassinated in 535. The various sources do not clearly specify the place where Amalasunta was killed. Procopius of Caesarea thus narrates in The Gothic War. "There is a lake in Tuscany, called Vulsinio, inside which there is a very small island indeed, but equipped with a strong castle. In that place Teodato kept encircled Amalasunta". That island could also be the Bisentina on which, at the time, there was a fortification, but a consolidated tradition, which finds more supporters, wants Martana to be the fatal island in Amalasunta.

The Bisentina Island: Like the nearby island Martana is what remains of an ancient volcanic cone and owes its name to Bisentium, a flourishing center in Etruscan, Roman and medieval times, which faced it. It is the largest of the two islands, with its 700 meters of length and 500 of width and constitutes a vast natural park where luxuriant plants grow, especially holm oaks, and where many species of animals also live.

Traces of pile-dwelling settlements, now submerged, off the island, testify to the presence of man on the Bisentina already in archaic times. The presence of settlements in Etruscan times is evidenced instead by finds of tombs and pottery dating from around the 6th century BC, such as the Etruscans, the Romans also left visible traces of their stay on the island.
It is known that in the 9th century the populations of the coastal towns took refuge there to escape the incursions of the Saracens. During the Middle Ages, the island began to follow the events of the Church.
Around the middle of the 1200s, it became the property of the lords of Bisenzio who, due to a quarrel with the islanders who did not support them in their struggles for the domination of the lake, set the island on fire and abandoned it. When in 1261 he was elected Pope Urban IV, he wanted to restore papal prestige in the domains of the Church, including the two islands of the lake. In fact the pontiff reconquered the Bisentina island and to erase the memory of the past lordship of the Bisenzi, he wanted to call it Urbana, by its very name. The fortress that had been razed to the ground by the Bisenzi was rebuilt.
At the bottom of the tower a previous excavation was used as a prison known as that of Malta (ie mud), where Angelario, abbot of Montecassino in 1295, Ranieri Ghiberti, Grand Master of the Templars in 1299 and a group of heretic monks in 1359 were imprisoned.
In 1296 Pope Boniface VIII subjected the island to the dominion of Orvieto, although with many reservations. In 1333, it was destroyed by Ludovico il Bavaro who had been accused of heresy and excommunicated by the pope.
In the 1400s, the Bisentina island became the property of the Farnese; towards the middle of that year, Ranuccio Farnese was buried there (and a century later he will be buried, in the same place, another Ranuccio Farnese, nephew of Paul III).
In 1462, the lord of Capodimonte Gabriele Farnese organized for the Pope Pio II, in the century Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a historical regatta of fishermen of the coastal countries that, after various vicissitudes, ended with the victory of the Martani, with great scorn and shame of the bolsenesi.
In October 1517, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese organized a reception on the island in honor of Pope Leon X.

In the years around 1530, Cardinal Farnese, surrounded by literals such as Paolo Giovio and Paolo Cortese, spent his summers on the island. In 1534 he was elected pope with the name of Paul III.
In 1635, the Bisentina island was ruled by the Duke of Castro Odoardo Farnese.
He had contracted a heavy debt with the Monte di Pietà of Rome, committing the Duchy with a mortgage; Pope Urban VIII, already in collision with the Farnese, took the pretext of the said mortgage to reunite the Duchy of Castro with the Ecclesiastical Domain. In the struggle between the Pope and the Duke of Castro, France broke in and the question was put to sleep. It was Innocent X who completed the project of his predecessor, with the total destruction of Castro, in 1649. With the end of the duchy of Castro, both islands, Martana and Bisentina, returned to the Church.
In 1707, reigning Clement XI, the Apostolic Chamber granted the Bisentina island to the bishop of Montefiascone, for vacation use of the seminary of that diocese. Concession which was confirmed by Innocent XIII and Clement XII until, in 1752, the island was given in emphyteusis to the count Giraud who transformed it into a garden.
On the island there are remarkable monuments, the most important of which is the Renaissance Church of Saints Giacomo and Cristoforo, whose project was entrusted by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese to Vignola.
Scattered along the island there are seven small chapels and the most valuable of which is the octagonal Tempietto di Santa Caterina, commonly called the Rocchina, attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
The oldest of the chapels is the Oratory of San Francesco, while the Oratory of Monte Oliveta, dating back to the early seventeenth century, probably replaced an older temple of which Vasari also speaks.