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This article is about the town of Lazio. For other uses, see Bolsena (disambiguation).
Comune di Bolsena
View of the city with the lake.
View of the city with the lake.
Coat of arms of Bolsena
Coat of arms
Bolsena is located in Italy
Location of Bolsena in Italy
Coordinates: 42°38′41″N 11°59′09″E / 42.64472°N 11.98583°E / 42.64472; 11.98583Coordinates: 42°38′41″N 11°59′09″E / 42.64472°N 11.98583°E / 42.64472; 11.98583
Country Italy
Region Lazio
Province Viterbo (VT)
 • Mayor Paolo Dottarelli
 • Total 63.94 km2 (24.69 sq mi)
Elevation 350 m (1,150 ft)
Population (30 April 2009[1])
 • Total 4,222
 • Density 66/km2 (170/sq mi)
Demonym Bolsenesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 01023
Dialing code 0761
Patron saint St. Christine Martyr
Saint day July 24
Website Official website

Bolsena is a town and comune of Italy, in the province of Viterbo in northern Lazio on the eastern shore of Lake Bolsena. It is 10 km (6 mi) north-north west of Montefiascone and 36 km (22 mi) north-west of Viterbo. The ancient Via Cassia, today's highway SR143, follows the lake shore for some distance, passing through Bolsena.

The Castle of Bolsena


While it is fairly certain that the city is the successor to the ancient Roman town of Volsinii (sometimes termed Volsinii Novi – New Volsinii – to distinguish it from the Etruscan city), scholarly opinion is sharply divided as to whether Volsinii was the same as the ancient Etruscan city of Velzna or Velsuna (sometimes termed Volsinii Veteres – Old Volsinii), the other candidate being Orvieto, 20 km (12 mi) NE. George Dennis pointed out that the town of Bolsena has no Etruscan characteristics; for example, Etruscan cities were built on defensible crags, which the hill on which the castle is situated is not. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder said[2] that a bolt from Mars fell on Bolsena, "the richest town in Tuscany" and that the city was entirely burned up by this bolt. The population moved to another site, which Dennis thought was Bolsena. The new city was named after the old, hence Roman Bolsena has an Etruscan name. Dennis suggests a number of crags in the area including Orvieto but does not favor Orvieto on the grounds that it is too far away.[3]

Bolsena is known for a miracle said to have occurred there in 1263, when a Bohemian priest, in doubt about the doctrine of Transubstantiation, reported bleeding from the host he had consecrated at Mass. The Orvieto Cathedral was eventually built to commemorate the miracle and house the Corporal of Bolsena. A famed fresco by Raphael and his school in the Vatican Stanze depicts the event.

The United States Navy established a naval air station on 21 February 1918 to operate seaplanes during World War I. The base closed shortly after the First Armistice at Compiègne.[4]



  1. ^ Data from Istat
  2. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History, II,18
  3. ^ Dennis, George (1878). The cities and cemeteries of Etruria 2 (revised ed.). London: J. Murray. p. 23. 
  4. ^ Van Wyen, Adrian O. (1969). Naval Aviation in World War I. Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 60. 

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