Bordering with Tuscany and Umbria, Tuscia is the name given to a well-defined area in Northern Lazio. It takes its name from the Latin Tuscia, the land inhabited by the Tusci, better known as the Etruscans. Its origins in fact date back to a time when this part of Italy was the elected location of such an interesting civilization and the mark they left is still visible in many towns, villages and – above all – in the countryside, which is dotted with Etruscan necropolis.
The Tuscia is a rich, green land that owes its fertility and stunning landscapes to the volcanic activity that took place in the area more than 400,000 years ago. What is left of it nowadays are green valleys, ancient forests and two lakes. Lake Vico is a few miles South of Viterbo: one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy and - being 500 metres above sea level - the highest one among the so called Italian “Big Lakes”. In order to preserve the beauty of this area, in 1982 the government of the Lazio region created the Natural Reserve of Lake Vico: it currently spans an area of 4.000 hectares with an altitude that ranges from 505 to 963 metres above sea level. Of this vast area, the lake – with a perimeter of 18 Km - occupies more than 1.200 hectares. The rich biodiversity of the local fauna makes the Reserve the ideal place for nature lovers and, in particular, for those who enjoy birdwatching.
Heading North from Viterbo, you will find Lake Bolsena: the fifth largest lake in Italy is surrounded by lovely villages – such as Bolsena, Marta and Capodimonte. Its coastline is dotted with peninsulas and promontories that provide the perfect viewpoints from where you can admire the two islands called Bisentina and Martana. The latter is the smallest one and is located opposite the village of Marta: unfortunately, visits are not permitted at the moment as the island is privately owned. With an area of 42 acres, Bisentina is the largest island and is accessible via a ferry service from Capodimonte. On the island there are groves of evergreen oaks, an Italian garden and various monuments.
For a full immersion in nature, the Cimini mountains will let you experience it at its best: La Faggeta – an old-growth beech forest 10 miles away from Viterbo’s city centre – is rich with trekking, Nordic Walking and mountain biking trails. 120 acres of forest with over 10.000 trees - many of which are 200 years old and 30 metres tall - and an uncountable number of strange rocks that can be found wandering around the woods. Massive and rounded, these rocks are scattered everywhere: after thousands of years, they still witness the volcanic activity that characterized this area in ancient times. One rock in particular – placed at the entrance of the forest - stands out from the others: not only for its size (9x7 metres, over 3 metres tall) and weight (an estimated 250 tons), but also because it moves: by exerting a little leverage at its base with a stick it is possible to make it gently swing. Labelled as “a miracle of nature” by Pliny The Elder, the locals call it “sasso menicante” o “naticarello” (the trembling stone).
If you are looking for a holiday far from the hustle and bustle of city life, the area just outside Viterbo is the perfect destination to enjoy a relaxing time.