Running a B&B means we don’t plan holidays! Ironic in that we rely on others planning and booking their trips to Tuscany. But for us we just have to grab any little gaps in the calendar when we can. This tends to mean we only decide the night before! So I have a mental list of places I’d like to visit that are within a half days drive of Bagni di Lucca and therefore ideal for short breaks of a couple of nights. Civita di Bagnoregio, the ‘monster park’ at Bomarzo and Orvieto have all been in my head for a while now, it was their time. With a preference to stay near water Lake Bolsena looked like a handy base to visit these from.
Bolsena proved a nice choice. A simple, easy going town with pedestrian walkway and cycle path along the lake front and plenty of cafes directly on the sandy lake beach. The sand took some getting used to though being dark grey volcanic sand. Lake Bolsena is the largest volcanic lake in Italy, 43km perimeter and very neatly circular. Not dramatic and spectacular like the glacial northern lakes, but pleasant and gentle, with lovely sunsets.
A twelfth century fort dominates the town. We didn’t go inside but it has a museum of the lake with geological and archaeological artifacts.
The town was sweet in an unshowy way. Judging by the second language of the signs and menus it is popular with German speakers. Restaurant menus were naturally dominated by lake fish, particularly the coregone.
We travelled down to Bolsena on the A1 autostrada, which for a motorway was actually pretty scenic and pleasant on this stretch (Firenze to Orvieto) But for the return we choose to amble a little more slowly up the SS2 Cassia road which from Rome passes Bolsena then on through Tuscany . The section through the Val d’Orcia in southern Tuscany is superb, classic Tuscan scenery at its best. We usually seem to be around this area in high summer when the rolling hills are golden, which emphasizes the cypress trees but even in this greener month of May they were impressive, and as an added bonus there were swathes of wild poppies in some of the fields.