What is the Tuscia, you ask? Is that a part of Tuscany? No, the Tuscia is an area of northern Lazio – the region where Rome is located – and that was once an area in ancient times that was ruled by the Etruscans, a pre-Roman civilization. The area once spread through the regions of Tuscany and Umbria, but now the Tuscia is considered within the province of Viterbo north of Rome.
This area is chock-full of history with lots of interesting archaeological sites, beautiful towns and great food. In the summer, there are many festivals that take place and in the Tuscia for the past 6 years they have celebrated one of my favorite plants with the Festa della Lavanda (Lavender Festival) in the gorgeous town of Tuscania.
Last July, I had the great privilege of attending a weekend long event with my daughter Paloma exploring the Tuscia with a group of bloggers and Instagrammers who were brought together by Mauro Rotelli of the @igerslazio Instagramming community. We started the day at a lavender festival in Tuscania.
Tuscania is a town north of Rome that was founded in the 7th century BC, but Etruscan settlements date it back even further. An earthquake in the 1970’s caused deaths and heavy damages, but the historic center was carefully restored and the medieval city wall still encircles the center. There are gorgeous views from the Parco Torre di Ravello of the ruins of the Palazzo Comunale Rivellino and the 8th century church of San Pietro (St. Peter)
After exploring the different stalls selling every possible type of lavender product imaginable and strolling through the center, lunch was served at one of Tuscania’s most popular restaurants, the casual and unpretentious Da Alfreda. As a vegetarian who still remembers enjoying meat dishes of my past including past meals at Da Alfreda, I have to say this is definitely a place to go to for a first course AND the second course if you are a meat eater.
After lunch we drove to a nearby lavender field and got a chance to take a stroll through the fields. It wasn’t quite Provence, but it was still a beautiful sight to see.
It was then onwards to Lago (lake) Bolsena one of Lazio’s volcanic lakes which also include Lago Bracciano, Lago di Vico and Lago Martignano.
Lago Bolsena has several towns that circle around it and lots of agriculture – farmland, vineyards and olive groves. Being closer and more accessible than a trip to the seaside, many locals head to the lakes in the summer.
There are cafes and restaurants with gorgeous lakeside views like Pepenero restaurant that has a cute white dock you can walk out on. Their speciality is, unsurprisingly, local lake fish and they are open year round for lunch and dinner – a gorgeous spot for a sunset dinner.
That first evening we stayed at the Balletti Park Hotel in San Martino al Cimino. Heading to our hotel for the evening we passed many gorgeous sunflower fields. Late June and July are prime sunflower season.
After hanging out at the hotel for an afternoon dip in the pool, we headed to Lago di Vico for a sunset aperitivo. The folks at Vini Pacchiarotti provided the delicious Lazio wine and nibbles including this dark pinky and oh so delicious rosato to go with a pastel pinky sunset over the lake. All the green down by the lake are hectares and hectares of hazelnut trees owned by the Ferrero company – think Nutella, Kinder and Ferrero Rocher.
After our aperitivo we headed down to the lake for a pizza night at Parco Airone.
This wood fired pizza came in meter or half meter portions and the word of the evening was “outstanding!” Parco Airone was a fantastic place for a pizza night by the lake.
The following morning started with a day floating our troubles away at Hotel Salus Terme in Viterbo.
There were lots of delicious light lunch options at the hotel followed by the tasting of a delicious dessert wine from the folks of Vini Pacchiarotti who had provided wine the day before.
My daughter Paloma and I had a great couple of days and it was just a drop in the bucket of the many things to see and do in the area. We highly recommend taking the time to visit the Tuscia area during your time in Italy.
Festa della Lavanda in Tuscania takes place this year on 2 and 3 July.