|San Giusto Abbey, Tuscania (foto G. Bellucci)
Majestic stone towers, churches, castles and a newly rediscovered abbey are among the top sites to visit in Tuscania, a small city nestled among the rolling hills and a verdant valley that D.H. Lawrence called the most beautiful in Italy.
Unfortunately we do not know what the Etruscans called this settlement, but when the Romans arrived they gave it the name Tuscana. For a few centuries known as Toscanella, and now Tuscania, it may be only a pin point on the map between the seaside town of Tarquinia and the provincial capital,Viterbo, but it has its share of magnificent architecture and monuments.
|Castle of Rocca Respampini (foto A.Cecchini)
The first site not to be missed is the huge, abandoned castle of Rocca Respampini, which can be seen in the distance, along the scenic Via Vetrallese, half way between Vetralla and Tuscania.
Rivellino, the original settlement of Tuscania, is a windy hilltop crowned with towers and the monumental church of San Pietro with its intact Cosmatesque pavements. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside these monuments, so you'll have to take my word for it: they are magnificent.
|towers near San Pietro ...
|...and main entrance
A series of dusty black and white photos on view inside the church remind us of the destruction wrought to this building, and the entire town, during the February, 1971 earthquake.
|facade and rose window of S. Maria Maggiore
|S. Maria Maggiore (foto G. Bellucci)
The town fathers of Tuscania have intelligently left a stretch of the original Roman road, the Via Clodia, visible in the center of the town, on the way to the former church of San Francesco where a school for chefs, the Boscolo Etoile Academy, is now installed.
|San Giusto (foto G. Bellucci)
The recently restored Abbey of San Giusto, located a few kilometers out of town in the Marta river valley was a completely invisible ruin for over 500 years until purchased and restored by a private owner from Bologna. Now returned to its original splendor it is another of the many special places to visit in Tuscania.
These are only a sample of the itineraries and special places to visit in central Italy. Take a look at my website for indepth articles and for more on the mysterious sites of Northern Lazio see my latest book.