Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Time Eating Out Around Viterbo

Otello on the  lakefront, Marta, Lake Bolsena
 Summer  time and  the living  is  easy...and everyday lunch is usually  indoors for  the thick walls  of  our  ancient palazzi  provide  natural   air conditioning .
 Evenings mean  dinner time  on the terrace watching  the  swallows  dipping  and diving and  listening  to the  noisy crackling of the  crows  as they fly  off  in  formation towards  Norchia, the nearby  Etruscan necropolis,  and the setting sun.

anniversary lunch  Otello, Marta
For  a special  lunch we usually  head  for  the lake of Bolsena where  the lakefront  of  Marta  is dotted  with fish  trattorie.  Otello  is  a third generation  trattoria that  has been  recently  spruced  up  and a small  B&B  added  for   overnight visitors.  The speciality  is   their  multi -dish  spread  of  fish antipasti and for  the main dish,  roasted fish or  coregone al forno . A special bottle of wine  followed  by caffe and  digestivi  brought the bill to  100 euro  for   three.

Russian icons    

post pranzo passeggiata  along the lake , Marta

one man's junk is another's treasure  

musical instruments and old radios

L'Archetto, Viterbo  Photo by F. Pignatale
 In central Italy life goes  slower and living cost less compared to  the  tourist magnets of  Rome, Florence  and Venice.
This makes  a stay in  a smaller town or agriturismo  in Lazio, Umbria or Tuscany a good way to balance a family trip ....and the budget.
funghi  porcini  from road side stand
 One thing that strikes first time visitors to  our area  is  the importance given to  food with   shopping  done on a daily basis and menus change according to what's available at the market that day. The time spent preparing  and sharing  meals  becomes the best memory of a visit, long after  names  and  dates of churches and monuments  have been forgotten. 

Here are  some of our favorite places to eat in and around Viterbo. Most  are family-run and "senza pretese", not fancy and not expensive. Looking  at  the " conti "   from  recent visits  I notice that we  usually spend an average of 15-22 euro  each  including  a litre of  the always excellent house wine.  

In  the historic center of Viterbo  the tiny  L'Archetto on Via S. Cristoforo (hidden under an arch on Via Saffi)  is the place to find typical Viterbese dishes cooked up  by Enrico Bagnaia  and his staff. It becomes  crowded  on  Saturdays for  lunch with groups of Romans  who remain surprised at the prices, so much lower than the capital. 

Try the  bar attached to Libreria del Teatro, Piazza Verdi, near Viterbo's  Unione Theatre for  a quick one dish lunch at the  fixed price  of  8 euro,  or for just a cup of  tea, cappuccino  or ginseng with  a home made sweet such as this  apple crumble.

The local Montefiascone Est,est,est   is the house wine  which Nathaniel and Sophie  Hawthorne  enjoyed when visiting  the area in the 1840s , as you  will read in  "Early Americans in Etruria"  , from  my latest  book  that can be purchased  directly   from  . 

Another   lake town, Montefiascone, is home  to a trattoria  with excellent  food -Trattoria Al Buongusto snuggled  under the  Papal Rocca  in the historic center, Via XXIV Maggio. Its tiny, romantic and has excellent pasta. 

A visit to Civita di Bagnoregio   means having  lunch at Hostaria del Ponte, just before the bridge over  the calanchi .    Inside its snug and has interesting art work but the panoramic terrace  is the place  to get the best view of the "dying city"  A few more  of these restaurants  now have websites which you  will find  in a later comment. So leave a comment  below as you  check the websites.
Across the  calanchi  in Lubriano  another good  place is the pizzeria Il Frantoio carved out of an ancient olive mill.  Magical cave atmosphere   and genuine good food. 

Fulvio and Sabrina cooking -the best restaurant is always home
Our  local trattorie  in Vetralla all  have excellent  value for  money and are almost  like extensions of  our own kitchen.  When we go to  La Lanterna  on Via Roma   we have to have the nuvolette, light balls of fried whitebait . 

Da Benedetta  at the traffic lights  has been  run by several enerations of  Benedetta's family since  the 1950s. Today you will find nonna Benedetta  and mamma Ornella  in the kitchen while the  grandkids  serve or  prepare steaks over the open fire.   
L'Oliveto ,  located on a panaoramic  hillside  half way between Vetralla and Viterbo  is known for  its fresh fish and we often take friends there. If  you  get a  table in front of the  fireplace  you  may be bothered  by the  television which is always on. 


  1. Don't forget the Taverna Fratelli in Sorianno. We ate there yesterday and it was awesome!

  2. Thanks Nick, I'll check it out. Hope you find time to visit while you are in the neighborhood of Vetralla.