After a morning spent wandering amongst the monsters at Parco di Mostri we were in need of light refreshment. The ancient hill town of Bomarzo was only a short drive away
and the neighbouring hamlet of Mugnano in Teverina rose on its own tufa mound.
The Etruscans populated Bomarzo until the Romans conquered it in the 5th century BC. The town has been repeatedly invaded and has changed hands several times before being sold to the city of Viterbo in 1298 and then given to the Orsini family in the 16th century. The building of Palazzo Orsini on the remains of an older medieval castle began in 1519. It is made up of two main buildings and occupies nearly half the town.
We parked the car on the outskirts and, at the risk of intruding, I just had to photograph this beautiful young couple sharing lunch.
We slowly ascended the narrow streets,
resting to admire the vista across olive groves.
Mugnano in Teverina was now below us and the town of Giove, across the River Tiber in Umbria, was visible in the distance.
With yet more climbing ahead we were very relieved to find an elevator to transport us to higher ground.
The panorama from the top was breathtaking,
the streets became alleyways
and the myriad doors were fascinating.
The 15th century cathedral of Bomarzo, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, was given a Renaissance façade and decorated with frescoes when Prince Orsini renovated it the following century.
The fabulous belltower is built from blocks of peperino
and the door is guarded by the Orsini symbol of bears, one with a rose and one with a lily, both of whom look rather unhappy.
Inside, the church was light and airy with a stunning 17th century fresco depicting the coronation of the Virgin surrounded by angels and saints above the main altar.
Unfortunately, Palazzo Orsini was closed, we could only admire from the outside and imagine the spectacular views from within.
A statue of Saint Anselmo, a 6th century bishop of Bomarzo, has pride of place alongside the palace, his remains are interred beneath the main altar in the cathedral.
Our thoughts had turned to lunch but there didn’t seem to be the array of eateries we had become used to. Venturing further,
we passed a war memorial set against a dramatic cliff face. There was a list of names in memory of the fallen as well as a bronze bust depicting carabiniere Luciano Fosci, a military man who was shot dead while trying to block an angry crowd at a political demonstration in Somalia in 1952. He received the gold medal for civil merit.
A little further up the road
our perseverance paid off and we found a tiny cafe, seemingly the only place serving food in Bomarzo. What it lacked in ambience it made up for with friendliness and food. The meals were fresh, homemade and delicious
and the doorways across the road were equally as memorable.