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BY INVITATION OF THE FARNESE. FARNESIAN TOUR OF THE TUSCIA REGION

Church St. Maria della Quercia. Coat of arms of Paul III

Church St. Maria della Quercia. Coat of arms of Paul III

Viterbo. Fountain in Piazza della Rocca

Viterbo. Fountain in Piazza della Rocca

The Tuscia is considered the native land of the Farnese family; it is here that this illustrious family name embarked on a rapid and happy ascent to power that allowed them to dominate in Italy and in Europe, beginning with the papal seat which Paul III was appointed to. It was in fact Pope Paul III who initiated the vocation of patronage that permitted the Farnese family to qualify as one of the main protectors of scholars, artists and musicians. The Tuscia benefited from this and so did Rome, Parma and Piacenza.
Even before the palace at Caprarola and the dramatic destiny of Castro were well known,(mainly for scholars and the more attentive tourist) the Farnesian Tuscia remained substantially on the fringe of studies and initiatives that were generally reserved to noble families. Thus, the creation of the project, a Farnesian Tour of the Tuscia enabling to rediscover via the Farnese, the Tuscia itself: therefore an invitation by the Farnese, to their native land , places where the family established itself, where it became authoritative and prestigious, a land the family would return to, even when it was outstanding elsewhere in history, such as in the region of Emilia but also Belgium, France and Spain.
Thanks to the magnificence of the Farnese nearly the whole of the Tuscia is scattered with rocks, palaces, castles and monuments; these are surrounded by natural beauties, areas that are still uncontaminated - such as the Bisentine Island on Bolsena Lake - heritage of a great past - from Etruscan necropolis to ancient historic centres that have medieval origins - that constitute an incomparable opportunity for quality tourism, ranging from a cultural tourism to a naturalistic one, from a thermal tourism to a religious one.
"But for another century the Farnese continued to maintain their rights and pretences over the lands of Castro, where their bellicose forefathers were born, at the service of medieval factions, where they had both on the Bisentine Island and bolsena Lake, their own church and their own grave. They will preserve all of this through time and pass on to their heirs, the Bourbons from Naples, descendants of the last of the Farnese, queen Elisabeth of Spain, the splendid vignolesque villa at Caprarola, almost as if it were to guard their family traditions for centuries to come...."
Originally for the Tuscia and of Longobard descent, owners of the estate of Castrum Farneti, the Farnese held military and religious posts between the XVI and XIII centuries in Orvieto and Tuscania.
In the XVI century Cardinal Albornoz donated the castle of Valentano to the family for having supported the church.
At the beginning of the XV century, Ranuccio obtained numerous estates west of Bolsena Lake that constitute the territorial nucleus of this small aristocracy in the Tuscia .
But the power of the Farnese family, that became one of the most important families in Europe in the XVI century, came about thanks to Alessandro, born in Canino in 1468. He was a close friend of Lorenzo and Giovanni de Medici. Rather than following the military tradition of the family, he chose an ecclesiastical career and became pope in 1534 taking the name Paul III.
He was one of the most authoritative pontiffs of the modern age. It was because of him that the catholic church was reborn with the much awaited Council of Trent, the approval of the Society of Jesus, the increase of Theatines, Barnabites and Somaschi, reform attempts of the more ancient orders and the first catholic missions in America and the Far East.
Of course Paul III did not forget to strengthen his family. In 1537 he appointed Pier Luigi, the son he had before he took his vows, the Duchy of Castro and the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza (1545). After his death in 1549 the Farnese family continued to be significant among its prominent male members such as Cardinal Alessandro il Giovane, Ottavio and Duke Alessandro, up until 1649 when Castro was destroyed (the capital with the same name as the Duchy) by Pope Innocenzo X Pamphili.
Defeated in Ronciglione too, the Farnese family continued to govern Parma and Piacenza until 1731, when Duke Antonio Farnese died leaving no direct heirs.
However, the annals of this family remain a part of European history as do the more famous contemporary Italian artists.

 

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