Visiting Tuscania

Okay, so after that first really rough day in Rome fresh off the plane, I was in need on some Italian TLC. Luckily, the super charming and adorable town of Tuscania had exactly what I needed!

Just to remind everyone, Tuscania is a real town, not a misspelling of the Tuscany region. It’s about and hour and a half north on Rome by train and bus (you have to transfer as there are no direct lines), but with a private driver only about an hour. The next closest town is Vitterbo, where my host and dear friend Matteo lives. Even though he works in Tuscania his commute between the towns is shorter than my commute across Austin.

Tuscania is teeny tiny, as in fewer than 10,000 people, and out in the middle of nowhere, so it’s is a fantastic escape from the craziness of Rome. There are really two parts of the town; there’s the part inside the ancient wall, where most visitors would mainly stay, and then there’s the more modern part of town that’s sprung up outside of the medieval wall. Even the more modern area is still really charming, though.

The real jewel of Tuscania though, is the Basilica de San Pietro.

It’s just unreal. This is the view of the Basilica from the park in the old city center.

It’s just unreal. This is the view of the Basilica from the park in the old city center.

And in the little park where we’re viewing the Basilica from, there’s this cool sundial.

There are months listed on the dial and you stand on the current month for accuracy.

There are months listed on the dial and you stand on the current month for accuracy.

And once you drive or walk across to the hill where the church is at, you get to view the Basilica in all it’s glory.

I wish my wifi were good enough to upload the other photos, because the interior of the church is really fascinating. Tuscania was never really a powerful city in Italy, so the inside of the Basilica de San Pietro is made up of a huge variety of different parts. For example, all of the columns are different, because the builders had to use whatever they could salvage from other structures, and ornamental carvings around archways are only halfway completed.

And after the Basilica, my guides took me just a ways away to Abbazia di San Giusto, an ancient Abbey that’s been converted into a really awesome “agri-turismo” farm.

Abbazia di San Giusto.

Abbazia di San Giusto.

There’s an adorable little B&B right on the grounds and the abbey is used to grow lavender and produce organic lavender products like soaps, lavender oil, etc. You can’t tell now, but over half of this structure used to be underground. The current owners had to excavate it back out to restore it to what it is now.

They also have a ton of dogs and cats, which is a HUGE plus in my book. The black kitty especially was very nice and followed us around our whole tour of the Abbey. Like a little feline tour guide!

Italian cats! They look so much more chic and stylish than American cats somehow…

Italian cats! They look so much more chic and stylish than American cats somehow…

I was very sad to go at the end of the day, but Rome was calling and our driver, Gigi Turbino (aka “Turbo Gigi”; a very suitable name for a man that drives so very fast) could not be made to wait any longer.

Rachel Mogan is the API Program Manager for our programs in Ireland – Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick; Italy – Rome, Taormina, Three Cities, Tuscania, Venice and Scotland – Edinburgh, Stirling.

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