If you have gone through high school in an English-speaking system, chances are you studied or stumbled through Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. More than this, if you were one of those kids who “preferred to watch the movie”, two versions were most likely on the cards: the one directed by Zeffirelli or the modern twist from the outlandish Luhrmann. As much as many of you swooned over Leonardo Di Caprio or Clare Danes, it is the Zeffirelli production that has ties to Tuscia and the town of Tuscania.
Ahimè (alas), as the Italians would say, we are not here to objectify any Hollywood stars, but appreciate the backdrops. Before reading on, I suggest you watch nostalgically (or endure) the video below.
While you were all in awe or confused by their professions of love, you should have been looking at the church of San Pietro in the backdrop. This Medieval church and the square it is in date back to the 11th Century. They are perched on the hill by the same name and overlook rolling valleys surrounding Tuscania. It is here that R and J wed in secret in the movie.
After taking random photos of flowers to frame my shot like a good Insta lady and reciting a few lines from the play, I headed in my Fiat 500 back down the hill and towards the main town of Tuscania.
The Parco della Torre di Lavello (Lavello Tower Park) was people free bar a family filming their child precariously ride a tricycle. The sun lathered my skin in early signs of spring warmth as I wandered around the small park. The view: the ruins of the old Medieval castle of Rivellino as well as the church of San Pietro that I had just used as a theatrical backdrop for my mediocre acting pierce the horizon.
Leaving the tower, I poked in and out of side streets before having a seafood lunch at Il Trebbo on the main drag. With the pandemic afoot, I always prefer dining outdoors and I was rewarded with a view of the Lavello Tower as I savoured the weather and well-seasoned fresh food.
This local afternoon at Marta was really about a goose, fisherman and two spectular views. After letting my GPS wear the pants for the drive there, I used the distant Medieval tower as my beacon and wound through the streets of the modern part of the town to reach it by car. Intially, I had expected a castle here. It did, after all, sit atop a small rise and had a tower. Instead, the castle has long been destroyed and all that stands there is a clock tower with the crest of the Farnese family. The view, however, was indelible. Marta, the lesser-known village that is perched near the Bolsena lake, has a sweeping prospective of the largest vulcanic lake in Europe. Montefiascione is the other village that has a wonderful report card for the views, but Marta seemed authentic. The castle’s former sight was self-indulgently mine for a good half-hour.
The historical centre itself feels like strolling into a vintage store and finding hidden gems on precariously positioned racks: weaving up and down the steps you stumble upon bold Medieval archways or sun-kissed narrow lanes lined with potplants. I had the entire zone to myself, apart from the occasional elderly local or the woman booking her beauty appointment loudly on the phone (yes, she needed her moustach waxed badly).
The final place I wanted to visit was the “Borgo dei Pescatori” (Fisherman’s Village). Without using a map, I relied on my wonderful sense of genius and headed to the edge of the lake. I found it. The boats were all docked and the fisherman were standing in a circle shouting gruffly at one another. As I tentatively moved in their direction, an uproar of hearty laughter errupted and a slew of in-group insults were hurled at an elderly fisherman who had decided to head out. They were alerted to my tourist scent (also maybe given away by my lack of Italian style and Nikon bouncing proudly as I walked) and looked over, unsure what to make of this anomaly. It was then that I saw it: a goose was shooting sharp pecks at one of the fishermen. I cracked up laughing as it reminded me of “Stallone” a little duck I used to keep on the terrace when I lived in Puglia (another story for another time). The goose waddled proudly towards me and I couldn’t resist snapping pictures of its haughty neck movements. It was then that we all started laughing in unison.
“He is one of the gang,” chuckled the man who was at the receiving end of the goose’s beratement.
After addressing their natural curiosity about my presence, I walked to the edge of the pier to get a sweeping view of the town, this time looking across the water as if it were an island. There is something so nourishing about having places like this all to yourself. While I share them on this blog and other social media, to be honest, no words or photos will ever convey the electricity that pulses through you when you go on these adventures.
Speaking of adventures, we are almost at day three. The day my Fiat 500 went swimming and I was rescued.
Un bacio x