Via Francigena Stage 38 is from Acquapendente to Bolsena. In 2018 Carol the Pilgrim walked in a marathon from Acquapendente with over 2000 people all clad in bright orange shirts. To date, this is her favourite stage 38 walk. So the photos and description of this stage are from the marathon.
It is a 24 km walk from Acquapendente to Bolsena. It starts with a 12 km walk to San Lorenzo Nuovo with a steady increase in altitude. And then a decrease in altitude for the last 12 km to Bolsena.
Medieval pilgrims used to enter Acquapendente through Porta della Ripa. Then they walked along Via Rugarella to Piazza Girolamo Fabrizio. Then along Via Maggio passing the Parish church of Santa Vittoria. Finally, The Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre was the the sacred destination. The pilgrims spent the evening at an area near Porta della Ripa. In medieval times this area was a hive of activity! It was alive with inns, bars, churches, a pilgrim hospital , a cemetery and all kinds of hospitality.
The Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre was a sacred destination in medieval times. Today it is the focus of all important celebrations in Acquapendente, especially the Pugnaloni. And it is also an important departure place for a fun event like a marathon! To find out more about Acquapendente use this link.
It was May 2018 when we departed from Acquapendente 2000 strong and clad in bright orange shirts. We emerged from the narrow, winding streets of Acquapendente near the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre. Then, just past the Cathedral we turned left to walk in the countryside. The fields and pastures were lined with dots of orange all heading for Bolsena! After a pleasant 3 km walk, we crossed Strada Torre Alfina. And I was filled with desire to see Torre Alfina castle!
Walking to Via Cassia
The level walk continues with orange dotted shirts complemented by green pastures and scarlet flowers. Then, after 2 km we meet Via Cassia again. And, we were safely escorted over the busy road.
Walking to San Lorenzo Nuovo
It is a 7 km walk from Via Cassia to San Lorenzo Nuovo. The unsealed road is far from Via Cassia traffic ensuring a relaxing walk. We very much enjoyed the bright green pastures dotted with colourful farmlands and flowers!
San Lorenzo Nuovo
Today, San Lorenzo Nuovo is a small town 12 km from Acquapendente. Originally San Lorenzo Vecchio was located on the shores of Lake Bolsena. But frequent flooding gave rise to diseases like malaria. So the town was relocated to higher ground. The architect, Francesco Navone, designed the ideal town according to 18th century urban planning. So, the new town was built in 1774 to 1778. Follow the San Lorenzo Nuovo link to find out more about the town.
The piazza is octagonal in shape with streets radiating from it. The Church of San Lorenzo Martire is on the eastern axis. And the Church of S. Maria Assunta on the western axis can be seen paved with flower mosaics ready for the feast of Corpus Christi. In the Church of San Lorenzo Martire there is a famous 12th century wooden crucifix and an altarpiece. Also, two paintings by Jacopo Zucchi.
At an altitude of 500 m San Lorenzo Nuovo has lovely views of Lake Bolsena. But the best part about arriving there is the bar with a nice clean rest room, a cup of coffee and tasty Italian food.
Leaving San Lorenzo Nuovo
It is a pleasant walk through San Lorenzo admiring the buildings and churches. At the end of the town, there is a beautiful park with distant views of Lake Bolsena. So we stop and rest awhile before continuing on our way to Bolsena.
After a good rest in the park we cross Via Cassia and turn left into Via degli Scolietti. After a short distance we enter a beautiful forest and continue along a narrow trail in single file. The forest becomes ablaze with orange dots!
San Lorenzo Nuovo to Bolsena
We leave the forest behind and continue along a mix of sealed and unsealed roads. The scenery is spectacular given the distant views of Lake Bolsena, the colourful flowers and green pastures. And then, to our delight after walking 6 km, another rest stop! Italian people are brilliant at keeping us hydrated and nourished during marathons!
Lake Bolsena Views
We leave the rest area and continue along our way with only 6 km to Bolsena! The scenery starts to become more spectacular as we approach Lake bolsena. Orchards and olive groves greet us as we walk. Then the excitement begins as the distant views of Bolsena Castle come into view.
Arriving in Bolsena
Bolsena Castle gradually becomes larger, until eventually we are facing it! Then we walk through the ancient streets of Bolsena to Santa Cristina which marks the end of Stage 38 Acquapendente to Bolsena. It has been a 24 km walk through spectacular, colourful scenery with amazing view of Lake Bolsena!
Use this link to find out more about the fascinating history of Bolsena! In particular, it is where the Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi began. You can read about the Bolsena Corpus Christi Festival here. Bolsena is also the 8th place where Sigeric stayed on his way home to Canterbury. In 990 it was called Sca Cristina. So, stay tuned to find out why it had this name.