A Guide to the Italian Lakes of Bracciano and Bolsena - Al Fresco Holidays
Rich history and culture, world-renowned food, some of the most luxurious Mediterranean beaches in the continent; its small wonder that Italy is so popular with travellers!
Although many visitors flock to the country to enjoy the historic treasures of Rome or the romantic ambiance of Venice, Italy also boasts a completely different holiday experience, far removed from the bustle and over-crowding of the cities.
The lakes of Italy provide a peaceful, laid-back atmosphere that feels a million miles away from the hectic towns and popular tourist hotspots. They provide the perfect location for travellers looking to take a blissful break from everyday life, with stunning natural scenery and plenty to see and do in the near vicinity.
Here is a guide to two of Italy’s most scenic lakes; Bracciano and Bolsena.
Lake Bracciano and Lake Bolsena: An Explosive History
Lake Bracciano and Bolsena, though now so tranquil in appearance, conceal a fiery past. Both lakes were formed by volcanic activity; approximately 50,000 years ago; and they are both officially ‘crater’ lakes; that is, the main body of the volcanoes collapsed and over time filled with water, creating the two scenic lakes that can be seen today.
Since the time of their creation, the lakes have been popular with visitors, and much evidence has been discovered over the years of Neolithic people inhabiting the sandy banks. Lake Bolsena also enjoyed considerable fame in mediaeval times, as the surrounding thermal spring waters gained a reputation for having considerable healing powers!
Whether or not this is true is perhaps debatable, but there is no denying that most visitors feel the benefit of the relaxing natural surroundings.
What to Expect when You Visit Lake Bracciano
Lake Bracciano is a wonderful place to visit for both young and old alike. If you’re visiting the area, or staying here for your holiday, here are just a few of the highlights of the region.
• Have fun on the water. Lake Bracciano, as Italy’s eighth largest lake, is a vast body of water, and as a result, provides the perfect location for sailing enthusiasts, who can take to the water and explore the surrounding scenery at the same time. Likewise, children will enjoy swimming and paddling closer to shore and there are plenty of sandy beaches lining the banks.
• Visit the Orsini Odescalchi castle. This impressive building, located in the heart of Bracciano town, dominates the skyline. Constructed in the15th century, it is not only one of the largest castles in Italy, but also one of the best preserved, and it offers unmissable views over the lake below.
• Stroll through Trevignano. Trevignano, a quaint, atmospheric village on the northern shores of the lake, provides an excellent chance to capture a glimpse of medieval life in Italy. The winding streets of the Old Quarter are charming to wander through, and the Archaeological Museum has many interesting Etruscan objects discovered around the lake itself.
Highlights of Visiting Lake Bolsena
Lake Bolsena, despite offering some simply sublime surroundings and a good deal of historic interest, still remains relatively quiet, especially when compared to some of Italy’s other lakes. Here are just a few activities that you can enjoy whilst in the region.
1. Bathe in the thermal springs. The region around Bolsena has, for centuries, been famous for its thermal springs. For visitors interested in luxuriating in the warm, relaxing waters, there are a few different locations to choose from; possibly the best one (and certainly the largest), is Saturnia, under an hour’s drive away, which has tumbling thermal waterfalls and a distinct sense of luxury.
2. Explore the town of Bolsena. The town of Bolsena has a delightfully laid-back atmosphere and contains many excellent restaurants. The scenery is dominated by the imposing Rocca Monaldeschi Fortress, which dates back to the 14th century and provides a stark visual symbol of the town’s once-powerful past.
3. Catch the boat to Bisentina. This picturesque island is possibly the most peaceful haven in the entire region, and visitors can soak up the ambience whilst exploring the typically Italian landscaped gardens, extensive oak forests and monuments. Of course, the boat trip across is also an experience in itself and allows travellers to enjoy the natural scenery of the lake.
Staying near Lake Bracciano and Bolsena
Both lakes are relatively easy to access, even if you’re not staying directly on their shores. If you’re keen to enjoy a camping holiday, whilst still enjoying the inspiring scenery of the lakes, then the I Pini Family Park, also located conveniently close to Rome and the lakes, is a great choice of location. Alternatively, book a stay at Camping Fabulous, which has a range of amenities for children and adults alike to enjoy during their holiday.