Vetralla & Montefiascone-two English towns in central Italy

July 10th , 2012 Tagged with:

Vetralla, an hour north of Rome and the airports of Fiumicino and Ciampino, is a small town known for its olive oil, Etruscan sites and excellent climate.  It is the only town in Italy (and perhaps the world) that can boast the historic protection of the English crown for almost 500 years.

Cross of St. George on Vetralla’s banner

Monumento a Vetralla, anonimo

Monument in Vetralla City Hall

Visitors from England will feel doubly at home when they arrive here and see the town banner fluttering from the city hall for it is emblazoned with the red  St. George Cross on a white background. Climbing up the city hall’s staircase they will note the large marble plaque dated 1512 sculpted with three majestic heraldic crests.  Flanking the arms of Pope Julius II (under whose direction Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel) are those of Henry VIII Tudor  and of his ambassador, Christopher Cardinal Bainbridge.

Ambassador  Cardinal Bainbridge  sent shipments of local food  back to England including olive oil, wine and huge forms of cheese of which the king was particularly fond.

fountain Montefiascone


Hundreds of letters conserved in Windsor Castle’s archives make up part of the correspondence between the Stuart rulers and Vetralla’s town fathers during the 17th and 18th centuries.


The last of the Stuarts in exile, Cardinal Henry, the Duke of York, visited the town in October 1776 during one of his month-long holiday voyages to Tuscany and northern Lazio.

His elegant marble portrait bust donated to the town in 1802 can be admired in the city council chamber where nostalgic Jacobites often leave bouquets of heather carried from the Scottish highlands.

The diaries of the Stuart Cardinal’s voyages form the basis for the recently published book “Travels to Tuscany and Northern Lazio”   and contain descriptions of Lucca, Bologna, Florence, Orvieto, Pisa and other towns visited by the Cardinal and his entourage during the years 1763 to 1776. There are only 10 copies left , which can be ordered directly from the author through this website’s Contact page.

A small pamphlet  “Vetralla: The English Connection, Un frammento ritrovato di storia vetrallese” was published in  2001.  It is now out of print.

There is more information in my later books  which are available directly  or  in numerous  bookshops in central Italy  (listed on the website) or  through

Montefiascone  is also described in great detail for it was another important town for the royal exiles of the Stuart family. Here  James Stuart and  Clementina Sobieska  were married and spent part of their honeymoon . Here the baptism of  their first son, Bonnie Prince Charlie, was celebrated. The church of Santa Margherita boasts  a collection of  magnificent church paraments  handstitched in gold and silver thread  by  Clementina.

UPDATE     A new  museum is being opened soon (2016)  in Montefiascone .

Hopefully these vestments and other Stuart memorabilia  will be put on display.stuart vestments

Santa Margherita, Montefiascone’s cathedral


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