Stage 40 – Civita Bagnoregio-Montefiascone. From Civita Bagnoregio the stage towards Montefiascoine is short and easy which allows you to have time to visit the cities involved. From here you enter the Via Francigena and together you go to Rome
Leave Civita, cross the bridge-walkway and go up to Bagnoregio village. Then you take the asphalted and rather busy provincial roads. Cross the SS71 Umbro-Casentinese very carefully; the cyclists will follow it up to Montefiascone. Pedestrians, on the other hand, will proceed on gravel roads, paths, etc., through farms, until they meet the Via Francigena that comes from Bolsena, in the woods near the locality of Sant’Antonio. In Montefiascone on the Cassia Nuova there is the milestone that indicates 100 km from Rome. Then we reach San Flaviano, the pilgrim’s church, also indicated by the monk Albert. Then the center of Montefiascone, with its Rocca dei Papi. A wonderful view on the lake of Bolsena; then you go down and definitively take the Via Romea Francigena
40 – Points of Interest
Bagnoregio: The toponym probably derives from Balneum Regis, in reference to the presence of thermal waters with particular therapeutic properties. Conquered by the Romans in 265 BC, which was followed by the destruction of Volsinii itself in 264 BC, it grew in importance for the deportation of the inhabitants of the dominant city to a new inhabited center: Bolsena. Bagnoregio knew Franciscan preaching as early as the thirteenth century, and gave the Order what will later be recognized as its second founder, and one of the Doctors of the Church: St. Bonaventure
Civita di Bagnoregio: The Dying City. You arrive at the very beginning of the bridge that connects the city “to the mainland”, as the citizens of Bagnoregio say. Coming from the badlands and from Lubriano, the ancient inhabitants entered through the Bucaione, the access tunnel dug directly into the sedimentary rock of the mountain. Located in an isolated position, today it can usually only be reached via the reinforced concrete footbridge built in 1965. After crossing the bridge-walkway and its final ascent, you enter the city from Via Porta S. Maria. The visit to the city is exciting for the structure, but even more for the lack of inhabitants, replaced by the hundreds of visitors. The cause of its isolation is the progressive erosion of the hill and the surrounding valley, which gave life to the unique landscape of the gullies; phenomenon that continues today, risking to make the village disappear; for this Civita is also called “the dying city”.
Montefiascone: Located on the south-eastern side of the Volsini mountains, it is the municipality with the highest altitude, exceeding 600 m a.s.l. in the “Belvedere” area and the dominant Rocca dei Papi. From there you have a splendid view of Lake Bolsena. Montefiascone enjoyed better fortunes in the Roman period, thanks to an efficient road system (the Via Cassia is an example). The fortress of Montefiascone has linked its genesis, its development and also its decline, to the relations of the town with various popes. In the period dating back to the barbarian invasions, the town was forced to strengthen the environmental defenses with masonry works that prevented anyone from entering the town. Thus a large and mighty fortress was erected with high walls, inside which the inhabitants of the countryside also poured. It soon became a privileged destination for popes who, forced to flee from besieged Rome, chose it as the destination of their exile. This assiduous presence of ecclesiastical personalities soon made Montefiascone an Episcopal See.
Est-Est-Est wine: Around 1111, Henry V of Germany set out for Rome to receive the crown of Holy Roman Emperor from Pope Paschal II. With him, Bishop Johannes Defuk, a great wine connoisseur, embarked on the journey. The bishop sent his trusty cupbearer Martino on an advance, who had to precede them along the way to select the best wines. They agreed on a code signal, every time Martino found a good wine, he had to signal it by writing “Est” (there is) near the door of the inn and if the wine was very good, he would have to write “Est” twice . The cupbearer, once he arrived in Montefiascone and tasted the local wine, considered it exceptional, so he decided to strengthen the code by signaling it with Est! Est!! Est !!!: three times “there” reinforced by six exclamation points. When the travelers reached Montefiascone, they agreed with Martino’s judgment and the bishop decided to extend his stay for three days, before continuing to Rome. Once the mission was over, Defuk returned to Montefiascone and remained there until his death, which is said to have happened in 1113 precisely because of an illness caused by excessive drinking. In gratitude for the hospitality received, the bishop donated 24,000 scudi to the citizenry, on the condition that at each anniversary of his death a barrel of wine was poured on his tomb. The Bishop was buried in the church of San Flaviano where on the plaque we can still read: “Est Est Est propter nimivum est hic Jo.Defuk dominvs mevs mortuvs est”, that is: “Here lies my lord Johannes Defuk dead for the too Est Est Est”.
San Flaviano: Construction of the church of San Flaviano in Montefiascone began in the 11th century and was initially dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Later it assumed its current name in honor of San Flaviano martyr who spent the last part of his imprisonment in Montefiascone before the final torture. The architectural structure of the building is very complex and is the result of numerous alterations that took place during its construction and in subsequent eras. Inside there are at the beginning two Gothic bays supported by two beam pillars. This is followed by a structure with three short naves whose central compartment opens onto the upper church. The columns are adorned with beautiful and complex Gothic-style capitals with floral motifs, among which small winged dragons and human figures appear in some. The walls of the Gothic spans are covered with 14th century cycles and frescoes dedicated to the life of Christ and the saints. On the back wall, behind the altar, St. Flavian is depicted on horseback with the banner. In a chapel in the left aisle is the tombstone of the noble German prelate Defuk, who gave his name to the local white wine Est Est Est.
Rocca dei Papi: From its Pilgrim Tower it is possible to look at 360 degrees and with binoculars see Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo. With Pope Clement III (1187-1191) and with Innocent III (1198-1216) the Rocca assumed a solid defensive and residential structure. It has undergone expansion and fortification works according to the military architecture of the time, with a trapezoidal plan with 4 corner towers. A fifth tower was used for residential purposes, a function increased by the entire complex during the papal reconquest of central Italy by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, delegated in 1353 with full powers to prepare the coveted return of the Papacy from the Avignon exile. In the Renaissance period, the interventions of Antonio da Sangallo the Elder, always in a residential function, and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, with the construction of the internal courtyard are important. Subsequently abandoned, the Rocca only underwent restoration work towards the end of the 1900s, with the opening of a museum dedicated to the architect Sangallo, the restoration of the Pilgrim’s Tower and the arrangement of the internal gardens. In addition to the museum and observatory located on the Pilgrim Tower, today the complex houses a municipal congress center and the headquarters of the provincial wine shop.
Lake Bolsena (formerly in Latin Lacus Volsinii): it is in the main caldera of the Vulsinio volcanic complex in the upper Tuscia. It has an elliptical shape, an altitude of 304 meters above sea level and an area of 114.5 km² with a maximum depth of 154 meters; two islands emerge, Bisentina and Martana, emerged as residues of volcanic craters in the lake. It is largely surrounded by the gentle and wooded hills of the Volsini (or Vulsini) mountains. The Marta river is the only emissary of the lake while it has several small tributaries that descend from the surrounding hills that partly feed the fresh waters of the lake basin. In addition to the main caldera of Bolsena now occupied by the waters of the lake, the nearby caldera of Latera and Montefiascone are clearly visible, especially from the plane or from satellite shots; the black sand is clearly visible on the beaches. There is the “carbuncle”, a local term used to indicate the leakage of gas from the bottom of the lake. In the Bagnoregio gullies, under the layer of volcanic deposits, there are fossil shells present in the layers of the emerged seabed. All the historic centers found in the volcanic system were built with tuff: Orvieto, Tuscania, Civita di Bagnoregio, Grotte di Castro, Sovana, Sorano, Pitigliano, Marta, Bolsena, Capodimonte, Valentano. It is a remarkable and very characteristic cultural heritage, which integrates perfectly with the natural one. It is a lake rather full of fish with various fish species present (including tench, pike, carp, whitefish, perch, lattarino, crab and crayfish) where bertovello (a kind of pot) is used a lot for fishing and where it is practiced often (especially at night) carpfishing (sport fishing for carp). In recent years, a cycle path has been added around Lake Bolsena. The lake also offers opportunities for canoeing, for taking a ride on a sailing boat or for stopping with your camper in the appropriate campsites in the area.
Miracle of Bolsena: On an unspecified day in the year 1263 a Teutonic priest arrived at the sanctuary: Peter of Prague. At that moment many questioned the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. On the tomb of S. Cristina he celebrated Mass. At the moment of the consecration, while he held the host over the chalice, after the ritual words had been pronounced, it appeared visibly reddened with blood that was copiously dripping wet the corporal. She went to nearby Orvieto where Pope Urban IV temporarily stayed with his court. The supreme pontiff immediately sent Giacomo bishop of Orvieto to Bolsena, accompanied, according to legend, by the theologians Tommaso d’Aquino and Bonaventura da Bagnoregio, to verify the fact and bring the relics to him. Urban IV received the host and the linens soaked in blood and took them to the Orvieto cathedral of Santa Maria. Urban IV declared the supernaturality of the event and to remember it extended the solemnity called Corpus Domini to the whole Church. The relics are: the host, the corporal and the purifiers now kept in the Corporal Chapel in the cathedral of Orvieto. They are kept in a Sienese goldsmith’s jewel: the Ugolino da Vieri reliquary. For several years, by the Municipality of Orvieto, by the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi, by the Archdiocese of Prague, with Caritas Prague, Sportify s.r.o., with the Relay Committee Prague-Bolsena-Orvieto and the sports association Libertas Orvieto, has been A relay race was set up that from Prague arrives in the city of Orvieto on the eve of Corpus Domini to participate in the Holy Mass in the Cathedral and in the solemn procession.