Ospedaletto: Welcoming Farm Hospitality Near Bolsena
“Ospedaletto” literally means “a small place offering hospitality” – and in fact, the ospedale in the Middle Ages gave rest, respite, and nourishment to the pilgrims trekking through Europe. And not only: housing was offered there to widows, orphans, infirm and those ostracized by society.
After the 14th-century outbreak of the black plague, medical assistance, too, was given: in fact, in contemporary Italian, ospedale translates as “hospital.”
After settling in, we headed for Bolsena (only six kilometers away) for the evening.
The next morning, we had intended to head on fairly early but our outdoor breakfast feast at lovely Podere Ospedaletto overlooking Lake Bolsena lasted a couple hours….
After espressi with Paolo’s tasty cakes, fresh fruit cup, fresh bread with her jams and yogurts (we skipped the prosciutto sandwiches and tastes of their cheese), Pino and Nicodemo launched into long talks about this year’s harvests and agriculture in general.
And Nicodemo told us about a legend indicating their land as possible site of the medieval medicheria (ospedaletto) which would have been right on the border between the Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States.
Grand-daughter Veronica joined us, too, and conversation detoured to stories of the family’s participation each year in the upcoming feast (July 24th) of Santa Cristina, 4th-century martyr and patron saint of Bolsena.
Veronica showed us proudly a past brochure about the July 24th Bolsena festival, I Misteri di Santa Cristina, featuring her aunt (one of the daughters of her grandparents Paola and Nicodemo) as Santa Cristina in a scene of her martyrdom:
Each year, Nicodemo plays the part of a Roman consul for the Bolsena celebration of their Saint. We’d seen the Misteri, those ten scenes of Santa Cristina’s martyrdom, but we hadn’t noticed a tall sun-tanned Roman consul with a beard: Nicodemo.
We’ll have to see those Misteri again.
Click here to read about why we love Lake Bolsena and area
Read about – and see! – the celebration of Santa Cristina in Bolsena in July
Read about a favorite Lake Bolsena eating spot
Click here to read about another Bolsena enticement