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Bisentina Island, jewel of Italy's Lake Bolsena, reopens to visitors

Mysterious island in Lake Bolsena opens to visitors in 2023.

Bisentina, a tiny privately-owned island in the heart of Lake Bolsena in central Italy, reopens to visitors this summer, with guided tours on select dates until November.

Long inaccessible to the general public, Bisentina opened to visitors last summer following extensive renovations.

One of two islets in Europe's largest volcanic lake, Bisentina has been inhabited since Etruscan and Roman times.

Over the centuries the island has acted as the refuge of popes, nobility and religious orders.

In the ninth century it provided refuge from the Saracens and in the late 14th century it became the property of the powerful Farnese family, a dynasty that included Pope Paul III.

During the Renaissance era the island and its seven chapels  - including the octagonal chapel of S. Caterina attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger - became a place of pilgrimage.

The island subsequently passed through the hands of the noble Spada and del Drago families, and in recent decades public access was only granted on a sporadic basis.

Lake Bolsena with Isola Bisentina, to the left, and the privately owned and inaccessible Martana to the right.

In 2017 Bisentina was sold by the grandchildren of Princess Maria Angelica del Drago, who often stayed on the island, reports Rome newspaper Il Messaggero.

Bisentina was bought by the Rovati family, behind the Italian pharmaceutical company Rottapharm, who over the last five years have carried out major restoration works there in collaboration with local heritage authorities.

This summer the public will once again have the chance to explore the mysterious island and three of its chapels, set amid centuries-old gardens, olive groves and lush vegetation.

The other four chapels are undergoing restoration work and are expected to be included in guided tours in the future.

Over the summer the island's buildings and natural beauty will be enriched by displays of contemporary art including specially commissioned site-specific installations.

Bisentina can be visited at weekends from July to October

Visitors are reminded that Isola Bisentina is a "sacred place" and that all who land there must respect the rules of conduct, according to the island's website.

Those visiting are also encouraged to bring a bottle of water and wear appropriate clothing and footwear for walking through "wild nature".

How to visit Bisentina in 2023

From CapodimonteThursdays at 17.00 in June, July, August; 16.00 in September; and 15.00 in October, November; Friday - Saturday - Sunday at 10.15; Saturday 17.00 in July and August, and 16.00 in September.

From BolsenaThursday - Friday - Saturday at 17.00 in June, July, August and at 16.00 in September, October, November. Saturday 16.00 in October, November.

Ticket price

The cost of the guided tour around the island is €24 for adults and €18 for children aged six to 15.

However the ticket fee does not include the transport service which is provided by a private company. The website states: "By booking access to Isola Bisentina, the boat is also automatically reserved, payment for which will be made upon boarding."

Lago di Bolsena is located about an hour and a half drive north of Rome.

For full details, in English, of how to get to Bolsena and how to visit the island, see Isola Bisentina website.

General Info

Address Isola Bisentina, 01010 Capodimonte, VT, Italy

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Bisentina Island, jewel of Italy's Lake Bolsena, reopens to visitors

Isola Bisentina, 01010 Capodimonte, VT, Italy

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