The Etruscan city of Velzna, which is today called Orvieto, was destroyed from Romans in 264 B.C. and founded again near the north-eastern shores of the lake, where the Roman center of Volsinii, ancestor of the today’s town of Bolsena, developed.
The excavations of the French School of Rome in Poggio Moscini led to the discover of the large square of the forum, bordered to the south by a majestic basilica, which was turned into a church, during the Age of Constantine. A “via tecta” (a covered street) leads to an area of private homes, where two large domus were brought to light. Casa delle Pitture (House of Paintings) preserves excellent frescoes, datable between the 1st century B.C. and the 4th century A.D., and an underground room where orgiastic rites took place to celebrate Bacchus. Beside the Atrium House (Casa ad Atrio) – which has marble intarsia floors (opus sectile) – there is a monumental nymphaeum with recesses in the walls.
The city was abandoned during the 5th century A.D. due to the Gothic depredations and the survivors moved to the near cliff where there is the today’s district of Castello, first urban center of Bolsena.