Tuscia is an area in Central Italy that corresponds to Upper Lazio and forms the province of Viterbo. These are the lands where the Etruscans settled in pre-Roman times. The landscape is hilly, dotted with valleys, volcanic lakes, woods, castles and villages perched atop hills. Against this enchanting backdrop, history and nature, past and present come together. At a short distance from Rome, even those coming from abroad find Tuscia easy to reach, with no need to spend money on further domestic flights.
Tuscia was the homeland of the Etruscans. The word itself derives from the name the Romans had given that people: tusci. The Etruscans- whose origins remain uncertain – first started settling the area in the 9th century BC and later began to develop and expand, reaching their height in the 6th century BC. With time, Rome’s progressive rise to power led to the decline and definitive assimilation of the Etruscans around the 1st century BC. This area therefore boasts a history spanning millennia, the traces of which can still be found in the necropolises, sophisticated burial cities scattered throughout the area, in addition to a wealth of pre-Roman relics. Etruscan cemeteries are famous throughout the world as exemplary funerary art, including finely painted tombs of various shapes and sizes; those at Tarquinia are especially renowned.
THE MIDDLE AGES
The history of Tuscia doesn’t stop at the Etruscan period. Many splendid historic sites and works of art that can still be viewed today actually date to the Middle Ages. One such example is the region’s main city, Viterbo, a true medieval gem. An integral part of the Papal State, Viterbo and its surrounding area achieved great wealth in that era of churches, castles, walled cities and villas, many of which are well-preserved and can be visited today. Two of the most splendid examples are the Palazzo dei Papi palace in Viterbo and the Rocca Monaldeschi fortress in Bolsena.
Tuscia is also home to a stretch of the Via Francigena, a traditional medieval pilgrimage route. Following on the heels of the newly discovered Santiago pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena has gained attention lately, but it still makes for a pleasant journey.
As the name suggests, the Italian Renaissance was a historical period characterised by a great literary, artistic and historic reawakening. It took place between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the “modern world”, that is, between the latter half of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries. Its epicentre was right in Central Italy (particularly in Tuscany, home to the masterworks of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci). In Tuscia, the Renaissance most notably influenced fashion and the construction of vast country villas. Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, Villa Lante in Bagnaia or the Garden of the Monsters in Bomarzo are some of its most stunning examples, demonstrating both the sophistication of the time and the skilled architectural use of grottoes, water features and “Italian-style” gardens. So what are you waiting for? Come take a walk through the great Renaissance!
A LAND OF CULTURE
Today, Tuscia is a region of farmlands with scattered towns and villages where you can still experience and savour the genuine Italy of days gone by. A wide variety of activities, cultural events and traditional food and wine festivals take place throughout the area of Tuscia all year round. To mention just a few: the “Wine Festival” at Castiglione in Teverina, the “Chestnut Festival” at Soriano, workshops and exhibitions showcasing local crafts, and the “Tuscia Opera Festival”, “San Pellegrino in Fiore” festival and “Caffeine” Festival in Viterbo. In other words, not a week goes by when there isn’t something truly special to discover!