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recipes and dishes from the Viterbo region

“You who wander the world to see lofty and prodigious wonders, come here, where there are horrible faces, elephants, lions, ogres and dragons”.

It is the most emblematic and most representative phrase of the Bomarzo Monster Parkengraved on one of the many sculptures present in the so-called Sacred wood a few kilometers from Viterbo, in upper Lazio. This is the phrase that ideally anticipates what we will witness, thus welcoming us to one of the most important places mystical and esoteric from Italy. A place full of mystery where allegory is the protagonist. large statues in an uncertain sense, imposing sculptures sometimes in animal form, sometimes in human form, large blocks of stone to represent half-anthropomorphic, half-bestial figures.


Decipher the meaning of Bomarzo Monster Park and grasping its meaning has long been the goal of scholars and art history enthusiasts, but giving a unique and global value to the stone sculptures that populate the Sacred Wood was not possible. And that mystery practically insoluble contributed to increase notoriety of such an emblematic and identifying place in the province of Viterbo.


Immersed in the heart of Tuscany since 1500, this destination full of mystery and riddles it is visited by tens of thousands of visitors every year, eager to immerse themselves in a place that seems to come from a world apart. A kind of Upside downwhose protagonists are monsters represented and, with them, all puzzles they carry with them.

Outside the park, then, a metaphorical placemat delicacies from Tuscia, to be enjoyed in the many restaurants and bars in the area. But first a party the story of the Sacred Wood of Bomarzo.

Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo: brief history

There is a close relationship between an esoteric, mysterious and mystical place like the monster park and one who represents the ultimate expression of Christianity as Saint Pierre. It was indeed Pirro Ligoriothe architect who completed the basilica project after Michelangelo’s death, a design the sacred grove, born in the middle of the greenery in the immediate vicinity of the ancient village of Bomarzo, just over 10 minutes from Viterbo. Rather, it was he who materially created the park, with its monstrous sculptures Pier Francesco Orsinicalled Vicino, from 1500.


“…Many studies have attempted to solve the riddle of this grove, located in an intermediate zone between art, magic and literature – we read on the official website – but the garden of Bomarzo is destined to remain a charming place and mystery that generates stories and stimulates the imagination of each visitor”.

Sculptures with an enigmatic meaning are here immersed in a wood made up of dozens of different tree species such as, for example, wild apple and plum trees, willows, field elms, loquats, poplars and holm oaks. , to only cite a few. variety. Everything here is part of a ecosystem to preserve and backup. Everything here, even the smallest bulb or the most hidden bush, is part of an inseparable whole.

What to eat near the Parco dei Mostri in Bomarzo

After a visit to the Sacred Wood, the time has come freshen up. After walking up and down the park, among the sculptures of the monsters depicted here, we found a some hunger, to be satisfied with the typical dishes of the Viterbo tradition. That of this part of Tuscia is one gastronomy which draws abundantly from the earth, from peasant traditiontherefore based on local products and meats, wild herbs, legumes, mushrooms, hazelnuts, soups but more generally tasty dishes based on bad ingredients. So what are we eating around here?

1. Aquacotta


A recipe recovering from the buttera tradition, linked to the shepherds who, in the valleys between lower Maremma and upper Tuscia, consumed this soup rich in bad ingredients. Wild herbs, a few potatoes, tomatoes, a drizzle of oil and stale bread, soaked in the soup itself. A dish faithful to its identity but changing in the ingredients: according to the season, in fact, it is made with different types of wild herbs.

2. Panzanelle


Another poor dish of peasant extraction. Another revival recipe to revive the stale bread which, instead of being thrown away, has been made edible once again let’s go (i.e. soaked) in tomato oil or liquid, among the ingredients of panzanella. There is no specific recipe for the dish, as it was made with recovery food available to farmers. The more traditional version, however, sees the use of hard bread, tomatoes, basil, onion and oil. At will, then, the use of cheese, olives or possibly eggs.

3. Chickpea and chestnut soup


We are approaching the autumn season and, with it, the return too chestnuts. In particular, this product is rich in proximity Mount Cimino, from the slopes of which comes a large quantity of one of the fruits that symbolizes the first cold. Refreshing, invigorating and tasty, the chestnut and chickpea soup it is a must in the autumn period in Viterbo and its surroundings.

4. Meat, truffles and mushrooms


Important in these regions is the tradition linked to the consumption of Meat. Wild boar, rabbit, hare, but also pork, pigeon, chicken or lamb, all varieties having a significant specific weight in the gastronomy of the region. Chops and tagliata are often accompanied by mushrooms local, especially i porcini mushrooms mainly from Monte Cimino, but it is not uncommon to use truffles.

5. Whitefish and freshwater fish


Well yes, there is also a strong tradition linked to fish. More specifically, that of fresh water. Not far from Bomarzo and Viterbo is in fact the volcanic lake of Bolsena (of this type the largest in Europe) with the species of fish that inhabit it. The White fish (non-indigenous variety but inserted here in the first part of 1900) is the absolute king, protagonist alone or in a fish soup, called draggedin which other fish that swim in these waters (including pike, perch and eel) are also used, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, wild herbs and stale bread.

6. Legumes

Lake Bolsena

We stay near Lake Bolsena to learn about the varieties of legumes grew up here. Not very large but still important for the tradition of the region are the plots, for example, of the small bean of Purgatory (to which a very sincere anniversary is linked), of Onano lentils but also of chickpeas. All used as an accompaniment to second courses or protagonists of autumn and winter soups.

7. Oil and wine


Finally, the production of oils And wines. Frantoio, leccino, muraiolo and caninese are the most common olive cultivars while the region’s signature wine is Est! East !! East !!! produced around Montefiascone (mainly based on Trebbiano and Malvasia and among the first Italian Docs). A benevolent mention for the Grechetto and Aleatico vines.

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