From Orvieto to Bolsena
History with a capital H
After the Etruscan town of Velzna (Orvieto) was finally defeated by the Romans in 264 b.C., its inhabitants were expelled and confined to the banks of Lake Bolsena, where they later founded Volsinii Novi, the present-day Bolsena. What happened in the centuries to come in the settlement previously occupied by the powerful city of Orvieto, an Etruscan State-City, is still a mystery to many respects, and this is also due to the invaders' destructive action. The cliff was probably left uninhabited during that time, or perhaps was even declared a forbidden area. What is certain is that the destinies of Orvieto and Bolsena would become inseparably bound together from that moment on. The event that made History is the Corpus Domini miracle (1264 A.D.) which took place inside the Basilica of Saint Cristina in Bolsena: the sacred linen cloth stained by the blood of Christ was later brought to Orvieto with a solemn procession and handed over to Pope Urban IV by the Bishop of Orvieto and the people of Bolsena.
The route followed by the Corporale is a pleasant countryside itinerary nowadays, across fields and groves that cover the uphill/downhill stretches of the gentle hills in a typical scenery of volcanic origin. Start from the Ponte del Sole area, where parking spaces are available near the kiosk by the Rio Chiaro ditch, that recalls the encounter between Pope Urban IV and the bolsenesi. You will notice a straight uphill slope in front of the kiosk that will cross the hill going south-west and take you across the Umbro-Casentinese state road after approximately one mile. Cross the road carefully and quickly, if you can. You will easily spot the red and white traditional signs pointing you to the Sasso Tagliato (the cut-through stone), a split cut through the rock to allow the passage of carriages and people: tradition has it that the procession coming from Bolsena found the road obstructed by a large block that miraculously opened for the sacred cloth to go through. Immediately after that you will pass under the Ponte delle Tavole: vegetation covers it for the most part, but some structural elements dating back to the Etruscan age are still visible. Keep on walking uphill for approximately 500 metres (a quarter of a mile) until you get over the top: You will come across narrow country lanes along the downhill slope and will end up by the Strada dell'Olivella.
Keep to your left, until you come across another tarmac road. Turn right at this point and after a few hundred yards the red and white signs will point you to the dirt road to your left. After an initial uphill stretch, the surrounding landscape will start turning into a plateau and you will spot rural dwellings in the distance, as well as small farms and a few country inns where you may get some fresh water or seek shelter in the event of a sudden thunderstorm. Be it the charm of this sacred route or the closeness to Lake Bolsena, something will make your walk increasingly interesting, and the scenery is so beautiful that it inspires painters and other artists who, without your knowing, may even "hide" and produce their works in the vicinity of one of the old farmhouses you have come across along the way.
So far you have covered approximately 3,5 kilometres (two and a quarter miles) and you will have reached, again, the Umbro-Casentinese state road at the crossing with the S.S. 74 Maremmana. Turn right and proceed for approximately 300 yards along the state road towards Castel Giorgio. The red and white signs will again point you to the left; follow the dirt road for approximately 200 yards and take the footpath to the right that winds up through the woods to reach the Etruscan Necropolis of Lauscello. Walk past the excavations, along the plain, until you come across a dirt road. Surprise surprise: you will be on the very border between Umbria and Latium; proceed straight towards a hill and from there along a downhill slope for approximately 2 kilometres (one and a quarter mile); you will come across an array of private fences that will make it more difficult for you to follow the route, since the signs that have accompanied you so far will no longer be there once you have crossed the border between the two regions.
But your wish to reach Lake Bolsena will be stronger than any obstacle you may find along the way. You will have two options:
a) turn right and proceed until you come across the tarmac road, then turn right and proceed downhill along the hairpin bends for approximately 3.5 kilometres (two and a quarter miles) until you reach the built-up area;
b) proceed along the fences crossing fields and edges of woods, rely strongly on your sense of orientation and head south-west.
This way you will reach the village of Bolsena, going past the Archaeological excavations of Poggio Moscini and the Territorial Museum of Lake Bolsena located in the complex of the Rocca Monaldeschi della Cervara. Both places are worth being visited: the first one is by all means the most visited archaeological site in Bolsena. The second offers, amongst other things, a panoramic view of the lake. If you still have time, there are plenty of sightseeing places for you to choose from: the Basilica of Saint Cristina, the Prince's Palace, the Turona Park...