Located in the province of Rome. The city is situated nearly 2000 feet above sea-level, on a tufa mass that overlooks the Lake of Bolsena; it is famous for its wine. The town is of Etruscan origin and was called Faliscodunum. Some believe that it is the ancient Fanum Voltumnæ. For the Faliscans, and later for the popes, it was a most important strategic position; Gregory IX fortified it in 1235 against Frederick II , but the town surrendered to that prince in 1240, and thenceforth never regained its earlier importance. The castle, now in ruins, was restored by Leo X. The cathedral is the work of Sammicheli (1519). Outside the city, on the road to Bolsena, is the famous double basilica of San Flaviano, the lower portion of which dates from 1030, while the upper basilica, dating from 1262, presents the interesting feature of alternating ogive and round arches. There also is the tomb of that famous drinker whom the wine of Montefiascone brought to his death (Est, Est, Est), and who, contrary to report, was neither a canon nor one of the Fugger family of Augsburg. Montefiascone is the birthplace of the poet Giambattista Casti, who died in 1802. This city, originally in the Diocese of Bagnorea , was made an episcopal see in 1369; its first bishop was the French Augustinian Pierre d'Anguiscen (1376>, a partisan of the antipope Clement VII. In 1435 the see was united with that of Corneto, and so remained until, in 1854, Corneto became a part of the Diocese of Civitavecchia.
Among its bishops were Alessandro Farnese (1499), later Paul III ; the two brothers and cardinals Paolo Emilio Zacchia (1601) and Ludovico Zacchia (1605), both of whom did much for the building of the cathedral ; Cardinal Paluzio Albertoni Altieri (1666), founder of the seminary and restorer of the cathedral, which was damaged by a fire in 1670; the learned cardinal M. Antonio Barbarigo (1687), who was transferred later to Padua; he gave great assistance after the earthquake of 1695; Cardinal Pompeo Aldobrandini (1734); the learned Giuseppe Garampi (1776), who gave its library to the seminary, and Cardinal Giovanni Sifredo Manzy (1794); the attitude of this prelate towards Napoleon was not imitated by his clergy, who therefore suffered imprisonment and exile. The diocese is directly dependent on the Holy See ; it contains 18 parishes, 74 secular priests, 21 regulars, 26,147 inhabitants, 3 religious houses of men, 14 of women, and 3 convent schools for girls.
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