Montefiascone is a town of just over 13,000 inhabitants, not far from Viterbo, in Lazio. It’s hard to talk about Montefiascone without thinking about its famous wine, the Est! Est!! Est !!!, a great quality white wine known all over the world. According to the legend (but will it really be just a legend?) the name of this wine comes from an episode that occurred in 1111.
Henry V of Germany was reaching Rome with his army to receive the crown of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from the Pope. Following him was also a bishop, Johannes Defuk, wine connoisseur. To satisfy his passion for the discovery of new flavors, the bishop sent his cupbearer Martino in advance, with the task of preceding him along the road to Rome, to taste and choose the best wines. They agreed a code signal: if Martino had found a good wine, he would have to write “est” (in latin: “there is”) near the door of the inn, and if the wine was very good, he would have to write “est est”. The servant, when he came at Montefiascone and tasted the local wine, could not otherwise communicate the exceptional quality. He therefore decided to repeat the agreed signal three times and to reinforce the message with six exclamation points: “Est! Est!! Est!!!” (www.villapuri.it).
Montefiascone, in addition to being the town of good wine, is also a very charming hamlet, made of small streets that from the Cassia Road and through steep stairways lead up to the rock, panoramic view of the town.
The visit of the town, which can be done comfortably in half a day, can begin outside of the village, at the Monastery of the Capuchin Friars (photo 1). It is less than a mile from the town center and the visit includes the small church and, on the outside, a splendid panoramic overlook. It also offers hospitality in the neighboring reception house for pilgrimages, scouts, spiritual retreats.
Approaching the center of the town, walking on the Cassia road, you will reach in a few minutes at the Hospital (photo 2), just on the front of which there are stairway ramps that lead you through climbs and ancient staircases (photo 3) towards the historic part of the town.
Going further, you reach the Crypt of the Cathedral of Santa Margherita, attributed to Donato Bramante (photo 4). The visit of the Crypt is extremely impressive. It is very dark and has an octagonal plan. In the center of an octagonal pavilion there are the remains of Santa Lucia Filippini, a nun lived between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century; she died at Montefiascone.
Continuing along the stairs you arrive at the entrance of the Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Margherita (photo 5).
The Cathedral is characterized by an enormous dome of over 25 meters in diameter and a facade with two symmetrical bell-tower. The octagonal interior also looks majestic, and the size of the dome, completely frescoed, is even more evident (photo 6).
The last stop of this walk is the Rocca dei Papi (literaly, the Pope’s stronghold), located on the highest point of the town. It is a large public garden with a small church dedicated to Santa Maria della Neve. The most important element is the beautiful overlook from which you can admire the beautiful panorama of Lake Bolsena (photo 7), also visible from the Convent of the Capuchin Friars. The lake is characterized by the presence of two islands, the Martana Island (in the photo 7, on the left side of the lake), in front of the town of Marta, and the Bisentina Island (right side of the lake), which according to some would be in the form of a vessel.
Montefiascone is set as a destination for a trip or for a weekend in Upper Lazio or Tuscia and its visit can be easily combined with other interesting centers such as Bagnaia and Bomarzo, both far a few miles.