Marta and Lake Bolsena

Marta is an attractive fishing village on the shores of Lake Bolsena. There is still a thriving lake fishing fleet made up of 30 professional fishers.

The most prized local fish species is the coregone (whitefish). This delicacy accounts for about 50% of the catch. Eels are also fished, following their migration up the River Marta. The quality of the fish and clear lake waters have been extolled through the ages by luminaries such as Dante and Petrarch. Here’s a guide to the lake cuisine in Italian.

The clean waters of Lake Bolsena also make it a good lake for wild swimming.

As you wander through the backstreets of the sleepy town, you can still see people mending fishing nets.

 Other attractions include the clock tower. The construction date is unknown, but its roof was probably added in 1253, which is the date carved at the top of the steps leading to the first floor. The clock was installed on the tower in 1575.  The tower can be visited at weekends and during public holidays.



For me, though, the highlight of my trip to this sleepy town was the kitsch Grotta delle Apparizioni, located in an otherwise unremarkable cantina near the clock tower.

Here the Virgin Mary has reportedly been sighted several times since 17 May 1948. Sometimes so many people try to cram into the grotto that a temporary first aid post has to be set up outside to minister to ankles twisted on the steep stairs and fainting fits.

Marta is well worth a visit, and on your way back you could drop in at the nearbyTerme del Bagnaccio hot springs.