Gate ti Castel Cellesi - Tuscia Area of Lazio
Gate ti Castel Cellesi - Tuscia Area of Lazio
For the third segment of our travels we rented a beautiful apartment just outside of the old village of Castel Cellesi. Our apartment, the bottom floor or a large house with a pool, overlooking the valley was very comfortable. So much so, that we have already booked ourselves back in for a trip in 2022. The village of Castel Cellesi is located about 30 km from Viterbo or Bolsena on Lago di Bolsena. Little is the word, and here is a good example to not fully trust what you see on Google Maps. There is no market, butcher shop or leather store in town. The town is basically a beautiful square, surrounded by houses, all painted differnt colours. The town was built in 1664 and the square used to hold a palace and a church. The church remains.
There was a wide range of sights to explore in the area.
Glenn had time to relax and update his travel journal.
We were in Castel Cellesi for 18 days, and this was a bit of a test to see if we would enjoy being in one location for a duration. We both loked the idea of not packing up and moving on every number of days. We enjoyed slowing down and enjoying being in our large apartment, or relaxing around the pool.
About 5 km to the town of Celleno. Just outside of the "new" town is the ghost town of Celleno - known as Borgo Fantasma.
The abandoned village is network of alleys with some of the old stone buildings still standing. Some, like the church, are in ruin, bot the ancient castle was actually occupied up to a few years ago by a noted Italian artist. The castello was involved in the rivalry between Guelphs and Ghibellines families. In the 15th C it became a possession of the Gatti family and then was a fief of the Orsini, a family from which it still takes its name.
The village of Celleno has been selected by the FAI ( Fondo Ambiente Italiano ) among its assets and on the days dedicated to extraordinary openings, guided tours are organized by the FAI Youth Group of Viterbo and by the Ciceroni Apprentices of the Liceo "Buratti" Unitus.
Celleno Il Borgo Fantasma shows on the map a short distance away and while much has been fenced off, it looks like a great photoshoot!
The Convent of San Giovanni Battista is a remarkable complex. The structure suffered considerable damage from the 1695 earthquake. In 1716 the cloister galleries were frescoed with portraits of Franciscan saints. In 1968 the Roman Province of the Friars ceded it to a private individual.
A short drive from our apartment, and just across into the next region of Umbria, is the old Castel Rubello. It is located just outside the town of Porano. The Castel dates back to the 11th or 13th Century, a little bit of a debate in articles as the exact date. The castle is a joining of the old castle itself and a curch. They are all safely behind a wall completed the towers. Privately owned, it was in the Valenti Family since the last half of the fifteenth century; then the noble family of Avveduti. In 1816 the Society of Jesus entrusted it to the Baron Luigi Salvatori. Today it is owned by Giuseppe Serafini Trinci.
The castle was originally built to control trade on the via Cassia, the ancient road that connected Etruria to Rome. It was part of one of the most powerful familites in Orvieto, the Monaldeschi. They stayed in the castle a number of times.
It was quite the day I was there. After taking photos of the external walls and buildings I decided to just walk in. What the heck. I walked through the inner courtyard. I could hear activity inside the buildings but no one came out to question or or send me away.
My photo of the street scene in Porano sums up the town very nicely. It is a scenic, quiet town. I enjoyed walking up and down the narrow streets, and there were attractive old buildings, but calm is a good description of the activity. Although, I stopped by the little store and picked up good bread and treats to return home with. Always a good plan.
I am still exploring Umbria this morning, and next to the Castel Rubello is the small town of Porano. Even the roadway becomes one-way controlled by a traffic light because of the hill and the town.
Porano dates to the 13th Century and was a fief of the Avveduti Family or Orvieto. Later in the 1500s it broke from that arrangement and along ewith the Castel Rubello became part of the Papal States.
We had a laid-back visit to Bolsena. There was a parking lot just past the lower gate to the historic centre so we parked and walked the gate did some shopping and then left. Hey what more should one do.
In Bagnaia there is the 16th-century Villa Lante which has fine mannerist gardens. Designed by Vignola, they feature monumental fountains, an ingenious water cascade, and, at the bottom, a perfectly manicured parterre.
Via Barozzi 71, Bagnaia | Open Tue to Sun
This is one of the many hill-top towns that is about a 10 minute drive from where we are staying. Civitella D'Agliano sits high above the valley of the Calanchi. It is a medieveal village noted to have historical and artistic charm. I loved the old medieval section of the town.
Viterbo's historic center is one of the best preserved medieval towns of central Italy. Buildings are often built on top of ancient ruins, recognizable by their large stones, 50 centimeters to a side. The town is known for its 'profferli' - external staircases. There are many to see in the San Pellegrino quarter.
I found my visit to Ferento very moving. I am not sure what I was expecting. But you drive down a quiet country road. There are farms fields and nothering else. Then out of nowhere you arrive at Ferentoi. It was 5E to get in. The fellow provided me a laminated map (which was helpul) and it was just me and two other people walking around the ruins of what was a major Roman settlement.
After the Roman Empire collapsed there was a medieval town attached to the site. But in 1172, Viterbo wanted this rival town destroyed. They sent in their armies and destroyed everything.
I have seen pictures of the famous 1500 Monster Park. I was worried this may be hooky, but now, I enjoyed my afternoon walk through the park. Buy your ticket and you are in. There is walking and climbing up and down stairs as the sculptures are all on different elevations - part of the charm of the park.
Great stories as to the origin of the park. The design of the park is attributed to Pirro Ligorio, and the sculptures to Simone Moschino. Pier Francesco Orsini, called Vicino, in the 16th-century build the park as a way of coping with the grief of his wife's death. Some stories are that he wanted the visitors to the park to feel uncomfortable as to feel his pain.
During the 19th and 20th Centuries the park became overgrown and forgotten. But Spanish Painter Salvador Dali made a movie and a painting about the park. In the 1950 a restoration program started and it took well into the 1970s to have the park as we see it today.
The goal of the park is to astonish the viewer. The monster statues are not in any order, just all around the park. Follow the trail.
Staying in Castel Cellesi, Bagnoregio, and its old Civita, was just down the road. Bagnoregio, is the new, but in essence old, town where all the people live and commercial activity takes place. There is a large parking lot and a place to buy tickets to visit Civita, the old town that was deserted because it is literally falling off the cliffs as they give way, and much was damaged in earthquakes. is actually two remote towns. Civita is on a hill accessible only by a long walkway that begins at the end of the road from neighboring Bagnoregio.
In the summer and the high tourist season parking is a hard to find. The days of just walking into Civita, as with our first visit, are gone. Now you must buy a ticket and then walk from Bagnoregio or take a Shuttle Bus.
You enter Civita through the old Porta Santa Maria, the only gate that remains today. From there you enter Piazza Colesant, a square with photo-ready houses and outdoor staircases all with flowers and plants! The next major sight is the San Donato Church, that looks over the main square of the town. Unfortunately on my 2021 visit the church was covered in scaffolding.
Then just wander the narrow streets. There are great views. Some of the grottoes have bars or displays.
I enjoyed being back, but Karen and I went to Celleno, and its abandoned town is called Borgo Fantasma, and it is a better experience. No long walk. No entrance fee, just abandoned buildings!
We would drive into Montefiascone every other day to pick up food (in the country you shop daily, not weekly as in North America) to pick up fresh bread etc. The big food stores were on the outskirts of the town. The old centre of the town, however, has massive buildings reflecting the importance the town has held.
The town sits on the highest of the Volsini Hills, so you can see the dome of the cathedral, one of the largest domes in Italy, from far away. At the top of the hill is a park with the remains of the Rocca dei Papi, the fortress of the Popes. Back in 1369 the Pope gave Montefiascone the rank of City, and its own diocese. Wealthy families follow the church establishment. A major town in the area, and as it sits on a hill it seems the dome of the Cathedral is seen from just about anywhere.
The dome of the cathedral (Duomo di Santa Margherita) is second in size only to St. Peter's in Rome. The church is built over two floors. It is the upper flow that has the three haves, its own entrance and the internal view of the dome.
To explore the old city I parked in a stall by the park and then walked through the impressive Porta Aldrovandi - still after hundreds of years, the main access to the historical centre. Walking down the main street, uphill, the massive buildings are an indication of the importance the city held. But, as you continue further aware from the gate, there seems to be less successful retail trade. That could be a result of the year or so of COVID. The activity of the town picks up as you read the next piazza.
A morning drive over to the province of Terni to visit the hill-top town of Baschi. We have seen this town many times on various trips. It sits high on a hill right by the autostrada. One of the places that makes you ask, how could they build a town like that there?
Well, there is a back road that gently leads to the town. Next thing you know you are there.
Travel books describe the village of Baschi as a perfectly preserved medieval hill town, well worth a detour to wander the narrow lanes and soak in the Old World atmosphere. As I drove into the town there is a newer more open part, and the old medieval section. Of course I drove to far into the old medieval section and was for a while literally stuck in a narrow allow with no way to get out except to back out. For me it is easier to drive forward through as narrow space than backwards through it. It too a fifteen minutes of a thousand "jiggles" - turning a little this way, then that way, and repeating over and over until I could get out. Whew!
The town was built in the late 9th C. It is a stone village sure. The historic center's streets are called "i buchi" (the holes) as when you look down them there is typically a small little whole with light through a maze of alleyways and lanes. The town is very clean, very well preserved and a pleasure to just walk and enjoy. Don't expect big sights to see. The church of San Nicolo' has a beautiful triptych and a gorgeous organ boasting 500 pipes!