Bagnaia is a little gem of a village just 78 kilometers (48 miles) north of Rome. There are several reasons to consider a visit to this small village in the Italy’s Viterbo province, including the important fact that very few people do. After fighting the crowds to get a peek at Italy’s most visited attractions, a day exploring Bagnaia may be just the perfect thing to do in the middle of your Italian itinerary.
Discover Bagnaia Italy
The easiest way to enter the city is on foot. There is free parking at the car park outside of the village, and then enter the city by crossing the bridge that separates the more modern shopping area and the ancient main square. The first thing you notice on the bridge is the dual landmarks of the castle tower on one side and the beautiful Church of San Antonio Abate on the other.
Walking through the main square, you can find locals sitting on park benches, sipping coffee and sharing the news of the day. Many are older men gathering to chat while their wives shop at the market just over the bridge. You definitely get the impression that this activity has been going on for generations.
A Peek at Everyday Life in an Italian Village
Strolling around the narrow street is a peaceful way to spend the day feeling like you are lost in time. Leaving the other tourists behind and enjoying a glimpse into Italy’s rural everyday life is a treat.
Enjoy a gelato or a pizza made in a brick fired oven while your rub elbows with locals in one of Bagnaia’s few restaurants. Il Borgo occupies a prime spot in the center of the main piazza. It’s an impromptu gathering and meeting place for locals. The restaurant buzzes all day long: with coffee-sippers in morning to late night gelato snackers in the evening.
Beyond being a sleepy village oozing in quaintness, there is another attraction that makes Bagnaia well worth a visit. We stumbled upon a park with a very interesting fountain just inside. We were so intrigued that we decided to pay the small fee to go inside and we were well rewarded for our curiosity.
Since we were expecting very little, finding the beautiful gardens, stunning views and elaborate nautically themed fountains was like discovering a little unexpected treasure. The gardens at the base of the manor are immaculately cared for, the complex geometrical patterns of plants and bushes perfectly aligned.
There are interesting sculptures and surprises around every corner of the garden.
The stunning property’s construction began in 1566 on commission by Cardinal Gianfrancesco Gambara. Prior to that, the land was utilized as a popular hunting ground for cardinals and popes due to its proximity to Rome.
Ascend the hill through the property and discover a series of water features, fountains, and grottos. The water is supplied by an aqueduct that was built in the 1600s.
The impact of the water features, dramatic gardens and sweeping views are enough to merit a visit. You can even grab a snack at one of the small cafes in town and have a picnic on the grass. Had we known that the park was there – that’s exactly what we would have done.
Other Enticing Things to do in Viterbo
If all of this isn’t enough to entice a visit to the Viterbo area, then here are a few more things to sweeten the deal. The first being the thermal spas, most notably the Terme Dei Papi, in the area. Best of all, some of the outdoor pools can be accessed for free! A nice day out of the tourist zone with these beautiful views and a day at the spa sounds pretty good. But then there’s also the fact that Bagnaia doesn’t have the only stunning park in the Viterbo region.
Bomarzo, just about 30 minutes away, is home of the Monster Park. The disturbing enormous statues seem as if they came straight from a bad dream. (Read more about our visit to this odd park, il Parco Dei Monstri di Bomarzo here)
But let’s not overlook the very best reason to visit Bagnaia. It’s not the only small picturesque villages in this area. It’s surrounded by several more that are also deserving of a visit.
Location, location, location!
And last but not least, the province of Viterbo is located between the popular destinations of Rome and Florence.
So you can easily add a stop in even if your plan is to visit Italy’s more visited areas. Hint: if you do decide to go, take a side trip and see beautiful San Marino. Often mistaken for an Italian city, but San Marino is actually one of Europe’s smallest countries and is definitely worthy of a visit.
More about these beautiful towns in the Providence of Viterbo coming soon! Check here to search for great places to stay in the Viterbo. Renting a car is the best way to see this region. If you do decide to rent a car, you may need an international driver’s license. Check with your rental company before you decide to book.
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