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Monte Fiascone, literally translated, means 'mount great-bottle' and I can find no better reason for the name than the huge clumsy dome of the church, which is seen at a considerable distance every way, and looks like a great bottle; but whether the church was built for the name, or the name given on account of the church, I am not informed. Quote from: A sketch of a tour on the continent in the years 1786 and 1787, by Sir James Edward Smith.
So what is it we love so much about Montefiascone?
Firstly, it's nice and high, about 590 mtrs asl and has fantastic views of almost the entire lake of Bolsena.
Secondly, it's so medieval with narrow winding streets leading up and down offering unexpected surprises along the way such as this wonderful cheese shop (below) which follows traditional ancient methods of aging the cheeses inside a subterranean grotto. We weren't allowed to go in to the grotto due to reasons of hygiene but the owner was able to get us this photo (below right) of cheese being aged in straw. The cheese shop is on Via Bandita, 3.
Thirdly, this old town has had pilgrims passing through since the earliest times, travelling on what we know as the via Francigena. A link was forged between Canterbury and Rome in AD 596 by Pope Gregory the Great, in response to a request from Ethelbert, the King of Kent, to dispatch Christian missionaries, thus the road to Rome became a thoroughfare and one of the most important pilgrim routes in medieval Europe. It would have been a long and arduous journey - clerics, kings, merchants, and members of the public (making their way to the resting places of St Peter and St Paul and possibly on to Jerusalem), would take their ease here on their way to Rome - and of course they had heard of the Est! Est!! Est!!! wine, which made it an even more appealing stopping point.
FInally, we adore the colours - oranges, pinks and yellows, contrasting with the blue sky, the lake and the ancient brown-grey buildings made from the typical Tuff rock.
There aren't many shops here for fashionistas, and closing day here is usually Thursday, but there are one or two places to tempt your wallet, and definitely your stomach!