What to see and do in the castles and countryside of Tuscia
If you’ve never heard of Tuscia, you’re not alone. This under-the-radar region about an hour north of Rome usually gets bypassed in favor of Tuscany. Those in search of a fairy-tale vacation, however, would do well to visit this idyllic place of olive tree–dotted hills, picturesque lakes, magical gardens, and centuries-old palaces (some of which are newly accessible to tour groups) populated by princes and counts.
What to See and Do in Tuscia
Start your aristocratic immersion in Caprarola with a visit to Villa Farnese, the 16th-century palace built for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Despite being designed by the great architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and possessing grotesques by Antonio Tempesta and a Hall of Maps that inspired the one at the Vatican, this masterpiece of Renaissance architecture is blissfully crowd-free. Continue north to Bomarzo to visit the Parco dei Mostri, a 16th-century Mannerist garden commissioned by Prince Vicino Orsini, who filled it with larger-than-life sculptures of dragons, nymphs, ogres, and a variety of other mythological creatures. Abandoned for centuries, the moss-covered stone sculptures received renewed public interest after a visit by Salvador Dalí, and the park was subsequently restored to its original glory.
Want to rub shoulders with the owner of one of Tuscia’s palaces? Elisa Valeria Bove of Roma Experience offers an exclusive new tour of Palazzo del Drago in Bolsena. Here, Prince Ferdinando del Drago himself will personally show off the property’s incredible art collection before joining you for an espresso in the garden.
What to Eat and Drink in Tuscia
Tuscia’s cuisine is influenced by Roman chefs as well as the region’s bounty. You can try traditional specialties such as chickpea and chestnut soup or porchetta at Viterbo’s Ristorante Tre Re, which dates back to 1662. La Fraschetta degli Antichi Sapori, in Bomarzo, serves abundant cheese and charcuterie platters with grilled vegetables and fried delicacies, as are often found at rustic trattorias throughout the hill towns around Rome. For a modern interpretation of the region’s cuisine—and an ultra-exclusive new experience to boot—Roma Experience can organize a private dinner at Trevinano’s 12th-century Castello Boncompagni Ludovisi with Prince Alessandrojacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi (pending his availability). Expect exquisitely prepared dishes from Michelin-starred chef Iside de Cesare of La Parolina, accompanied by wines from the prince’s winery, Tenuta di Fiorano.
Where to Stay in Tuscia
Sleep like royalty at Vesconte Palazzo Cozza Caposavi, a noble palace in Bolsena that Count Francesco Cozza Caposavi and his family have turned into a bed and breakfast. Wander the halls and salons, which burst with art and antiques, and spend a night in one of the lavish rooms, where famous figures such as Stendhal and Federico Fellini have stayed. Enjoy a private dinner in the richly frescoed dining room, and, if you’re lucky, Count Francesco might show you around while regaling you with tales of his family’s illustrious history.
Next Up: Modern Attractions in the Medieval Spanish City of Cáceres, a UNESCO World Heritage Site