ITALIAN VACATION VILLAGE
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"Castel Cellesi is one of those perfect places to have the dream Italian holiday: it's a small village filled with friendly characters, even if you don't speak a word of Italian. It's central enough that you can do so many day trips, yet, far away enough from the hustle and bustle that having dinner under the stars is not only possible, but almost an expected. We spent an amazing two weeks in Castel Cellesi, along with our friends, and it was truly one of the most memorable holidays ever. Our host and our resident 'tour guide' was not only helpful, but really gave us the cream of the crop of the local experiences: the required dinner under the stars, but not only that, locally sourced and prepared dinner, with local wine (which I might add is some of the best value for money and taste that I've ever had!). We were recommended the best places to eat (there's a reason Italy forms the 'eat' part of 'Eat, Pray, Love'!), were given practical guidelines as to where to go and what to do, and in summertime the azure blue swimming pool is a haven for tired feet, a respite from the Italian heat.
Some of our experiences that were in excess of our expectations: We have two toddlers and when our son came down with tonsillitis, Eddie (our English speaking 'tour guide') came with us to hospital and assisted us way beyond anything that was required of him. Our host (Telly) treated our children with ice creams on a regular basis, and when my husband wanted to surprise me with a new wedding ring, Telly was the one who helped him make it happen, without ever having met us.
The accommodation gave us the impression of authentic Italian countryside, with everything that you need, and our our group of 12 people everyone found something that worked for them. We were able to take many hikes into the countryside, and explored the are around Castel Cellesi, always finding something new to see and do.
Don't be fooled: this is truly a special village, the people are incredibly welcoming, and in terms of value for money, one of the best choices in Western Europe!"
The village is Castel Cellesi, with 200 inhabitants, located in the most beautiful area of Tuscia – at the meeting point of Northern Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. An area of outstanding natural beauty – hills, lakes, spas, old Etruscan villages famed for their ancient tombs and amphitheatres.
Towns such as Bolsena, Civita di Bagnoregio, Montefiascone, Orvieto, Viterbo, Tarquinia, Bagnaia and Bomarzo are to visited. An area ideal for relaxing, sightseeing, walking and trekking, horse riding and much much more.
At Viterbo there are the hot springs of Bulicame, known to Dante – here you can visit the local Spa for many and varied treatments for both outside and inside the body! An area famed for its cuisine, based on both meat and fish. Its wines, its many local festivals, antique fairs and more.
Castel Cellesi is a little jewel really unknown to most of the world. Being in Castel Cellesi is like stepping back in time. What makes Castel Cellesi so different? The most important factor is that the road to Castel Cellesi ends here. There is no through road – this means that the world has mostly passed the village by.
It is quiet, safe and unspoilt. The village boasts two beautiful piazzas, a parish church, a post office, a bar, small food shop and a local pizzeria. Being in the middle of the countryside, just a short walk and you find yourself in olive groves and vineyards.
Although isolated it is easily accessible – just 5 kms along the main road and you arrive at Bagnoregio with its supermarket and shops. A little further you come to Montefiascone with again more supermarkets and shops. In 20 minitues you are in the quaint town of Bolsena situated on its famous lake. Another 20 minutes in the opposite direction and you are at the mighty town of Viterbo.
Brief history of Castel Cellesi
The village was originally an enclosed square structure composed of small farm houses which surrounded a larger open space accessible through two main gates known as the “Upper Gate” and the “Lower Gate.” The Church and the Palace of Count Giromamo Cellesi were in the center of the village.
Gradually more farmers joined the first settlers and the village spread out of its lower gate. Another large square was then added on, rectangular in shape, encircled by small houses which all looked alike in color, shape and size. Count Cellesi had decreed that no building could be erected higher than the second floor of his own palace.
The result is a lovely hamlet; homogeneous, harmonious, and unique. The asphalted road is in very good condition and ends at the village itself. There is very little traffic and pollution; people can park their cars in front of their own homes; children can safely play in the streets-in short, life is as quiet and peaceful as it was hundreds of years ago.
In the older of the two squares, one finds the Parish Church dedicated to Saint Girolamo. Its construction was commissioned by Count Girolamo Cellesi in 1664 and his monumental tomb is on the right hand wall entering the church. The building was restored and decorated with large frescoes in the late 1800’s.
The interior of the church has only one nave, covered with a wood beam roof and three steps lead to the altar where the statue of St. Girolamo is located. A large wooden statue of the Virgin Mary in the Assumption into Heaven, highly venerated in Castelcellesi, is located on the left of the altar.
The most important monument of the village is the small church named after the Holy Sepulchre, founded by Count Girolamo Cellesi around 1674. It originates as a very modest chapel dedicated to the Madonna del Soccorso. Later, in 1703, another Count Cellesi, Francesco, had requested some Holy Relics from the Great Custodian of the Holy Land and started reconstruction of the chapel, enlarging it to twice its original size.
During the renovation, a large rock slab was found in the center of the new church site. Since it was not possible to remove it, they decided to erect a Shrine around it shaped like the Holy Sepulchre in the Holy Land. The Holy Relics arrived at Cestelcellesi at the end of February 1704 and were placed in the Shrine. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was officially consecrated by the Bishop on n March 7th,1704.
A Brotherhood was founded to take care of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Church. For almost two centuries, until the end of the XIX century, the Holy Sepulchre of Castelcellesi was the destination of countless pilgrims coming from all over the Tiber valley. Even today it is one of the most important sites on the itinerary “Shrines of the Holy Sepulchre in Europe.”
The panoramic view from the hilltop of the Holy Sepulchre is breathtaking. From west to east, one can see the outline of the dome of Montefiascone’s Cathedral and Papal Fortress, moving on to the peak of the Mount Amiata, followed by the hills surrounding Orvieto to the Umbrian Appenines studded with charming towns and villages, finally sloping down towards the Tiber Valley.
In the distance, the mountains of the Sabina terriritory, Abruzzo and the snowy peak of Termillo are visible while a bit closer the Cimini mountains decline towards the plain of Viterbo. Much nearer, one can enjoy the spectacular sight of the buttresses of Bagnoregio’s valley, surrounded by lush woods, fields, vineyards and olive groves.