The lake originated from the Vulsino volcanic system which, following a violent explosion, collapsed on itself giving life to a huge crater that slowly filled with water, slowly becoming a lake. The first traces of human settlements occur towards the end of the Neolithic. The lake area was then inhabited during the Iron and Bronze Ages. In the Etruscan era four cities arose, Visentum, Civita di Grotte di Castro, Cornossa and Bolsena. When the city of Volsinii fell, the lake became part of the Roman Empire. At the fall of the Roman Empire, the lake became a place of incursions by Lombards and Saracens, it is in this period that the king of the Goths, Theodatus, had the Amalasunta cuisine, daughter of Theodoric, imprisoned and killed on the island of Martana. In the twelfth century the territory was affected by the struggles for power between Orvieto, Viterbo and the Papal States, the latter succeeded in establishing itself, thanks to the intervention of Cardinal Egidio Albornoz. In 1537 the Duchy of Castro was founded at the behest of Pope Palo III, the duchy was entrusted to the pontiff’s son, Pier Luigi Farnese, and included the cities of Marta, Capodimonte, Bisenzio, Gradoli, Grotte di Castro, San Lorenzo, Borghetto and the two islands Martana and Bisentina. Until 1649, the year of the fall of the Duchy of Castro, the territory was governed by the Farnese family, to then return under the control of the State of the Church. In the eighteenth century the lake undergoes a progressive rise of the waters, creating marshy areas from which important malaria epidemics were generated, it is in this period that the cities of Bisenzio and Borghetto disappear, incorporated by the larger cities. After 1860, the year of the unification of Italy, the area of Lake Bolsena was the protagonist of banditry phenomena, widespread throughout the territory of the lower Maremma and Alta Tuscia, this phenomenon was definitively eradicated only in the early 1900s. .
More information on Lake Bolsena: https://bolsena.it/
What to see in Tuscania
Church of San Pietro: The Church of San Pietro is one of the most beautiful churches in the city of Tuscania. The church takes its name from the hill on which it stands, the hill that hosted the acropolis in the Etruscan-Roman era. According to the reconstructions, the church was erected in the eighth century, in the century in which the city of Tuscania, conquered by the troops of Charlemagne, was ceded to the Papal States. Inside, the church is divided into three naves, and houses a ciborium from 1200 and a bishop’s seat.
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore: Another important church of the city of Tuscania, the building stands near the Colle di San Pietro, near the other church in the village. The construction of the church is certainly prior to 852, but its consecration took place only in 1206. The church is flanked by the Bell Tower, dating back to 1100. The interior of the church is decorated with thirteenth-century frescoes, from the Roman school, depicting the 12 Apostles and the Last Judgment.
Duomo: This is the church of San Giacomo, of medieval origin, following a strong demographic crisis, the town of Tuscania moved the ecclesiastical functions from the Colle della Civita, where the Church of San Pietro stood, to the small church of Santa Maria and then to the church of San Giacomo, at the behest of the Cardinal Bishop Giovanni Francesco Gambara. The current appearance is due to the restoration works that took place in 1563, which gave it a Renaissance appearance.
Walls of Cinta: The Walls of Tuscania dates back to the Etruscan period, to protect the settlement erected on Colle San Pietro. Modified numerous times in the centuries following its creation, the walls today present various architectural styles. Most of the modifications and extensions of the enclosure were made under the control of the Aldobrandeschi family. The walls have a polygonal perimeter, guards and protects the medieval part of the town, of the historic Etruscan walls, original parts remain near the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Church of San Pietro.
History of Tuscania
According to legend, the town was founded by the son of Aeneas, a certain Ascanio, or by the son of Hercules and Araxe, Tusco.
In reality, the area was inhabited since the Paleolithic, as evidenced by the numerous finds found, according to the reconstructions there were large settlements already in the Copper and Ancient Bronze Ages.
A great growth of the settlements occurred in the Etruscan era, when a large village was founded, starting from the eighth century BC the acropolis stood on Colle San Pietro, the strategic position of the town made it one of the main centers, and one of the most important cities of the Lucumonia of Tarquinia.
Over the centuries the city was incorporated into the possessions of the Roman Empire, in this period Tuscania experienced a long period of positivity, trade grew and activities flourished, it became a municipium in 88 BC, with the fall of the Roman Empire. ‘West the town suffered the incursions of the barbarians, then became a domain of the Heruli, the Goths and the Lombards, in 569 the city was conquered by the troops of Charlemagne and then ceded to the Papal States.
Having become a free municipality in 1100, the city managed to gain control over the nearby cities, such as Canino, Cellere, Montalto di Castro etc …
Following the struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the fate of the city worsened, until it was placed under the control of Viterbo, elevated, in 1192 to the Episcopal See.