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Above: waiting for afternoon tea! These ducks are fed by a local woman every day at the same time - today she was a little late and the ducks were getting impatient.
Below. here they are doing their impression of The Beetles crossing Abbey Road....going in search of 'la signora' and bread!
Above and below - notice the brown sign above the 20km speed limit, which reads 'Borgo dei Pescatori' - this translates simply as 'fishing village' and is the older part of Marta.
Some experts date the origins of Marta to the very ancient Phoenician period (1200 - 500 BC) and that its ancient name was Marath. Others maintain that its origins are purely Etruscan. Today Marta is still a fishing village, with its own Palazzo Farnese (the more famous Palazzo Farnese is located in the town of Caprarola a short drive away), then there is a sanctuary and - most interestingly - a local red dessert wine made from the Cannaiolo grape variety - one of the territory's autochthonous grape varieties and which we especially enjoy during the winter.
As you can see from the wild-looking photos below, we visited on a very blustery Autumnal day but instead of damping our spirits it added to the fun and we find this place very charming. With waves flying up at us, I got some great shots and am pleased to say that my camera lens made a full recovery. The headland you can see in the 1st photo below is Capodimonte (not the Capodimonte famous for pottery - that is near Naples), and the island you can see in the 2nd and 3rd photos below is Isola Martana.
There are just two islands (Bisentina and Martana), both formed at the time of the volcanic eruption. Bisentina is the larger, inhabited since 1200 AD, and was owned by the wealthy and famous Aldobrandeschi family. In 1261 the island was annexed to the church and became the summer residence of the pope until 1758. It eventually became privately owned by the aristocratic family of the 'Princes of the Dragon' (Principi del Drago); lords of the castle of Bolsena. Descendants - Principessa Angelica and Principe Giovanni del Drago - still own the island, and therefore it is not possible to visit. The smaller island of Martana takes its name from Marta - its closest port - and was formed around 130.000 years ago during an underwater eruption. For Star Trek fans - from the air the island looks like the Star Trek uniform symbol.
Below are some views from the top of old Marta. In the first you can see all the way across the lake to Bolsena town, below this is Capodimonte again and Isola Bisentina, and below that is a view of the main high street. There is also, surprisingly, a small coffee production company based about half way along, behind the main high street, which we love the flavour of, called CAFFE FIDA. The shop - via Laertina, 115 - has slightly unpredictable opening times but the coffee is worth it and they have a nice selection of chocolates, wines and gifts as well.
Below are various views from around Marta...
Getting to Marta, and Lake Bolsena, is best by car. We have never attempted this journey using public transport but from Rome you would need to get as far as Viterbo by train and then find a local bus or hire a taxi to go the rest of the way. However, you could end up with not much left of your day for sightseeing. We organise various day trips into this highly scenic territory, combining culture & history with wine tasting. For further details have a look at our sample itineraries.
Good places for food around the lake - 'Al Purgatorio' in nearby Gradoli, 'La Roccia' at Capodimonte and 'La Pineta' on the opposite side of the lake in Bolsena town. Opening times vary but Thursday is usually closing day in this area.