Unveiling Viterbo: A Journey Through History and Enchantment

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Viterbo, often overshadowed by its neighbor Rome, is a captivating gem nestled in an ancient geographical area known as Tuscia within central Italy’s Lazio region. This Medieval walled city boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a unique charm that will leave you wanting more. Here’s a glimpse into what awaits you in Viterbo:

Step Back in Time in This Walled City

Piazza San Lorenzo: Immerse yourself in the heart of medieval Viterbo in Piazza San Lorenzo. This vibrant square is graced by the imposing San Lorenzo Cathedral, with its contrasting black and white bell tower. Explore the nearby Colle del Duomo Museum, housing archaeological treasures and a collection of sacred art.

Palazzo dei Papi (Palace of the Popes): Take a walk through history at the Palazzo dei Papi. This grand 13th-century palace served as a refuge for Popes escaping the turmoil of Rome. Stand in awe of the elegant loggia and imagine the conclaves held within the Sala del Conclave, where cardinals deliberated under lock and key.

viterbo-palazzo dei papi
Palace of the Popes

National Etruscan Museum: Delve into the ancient world at the National Etruscan Museum housed within the imposing Rocca Albornoz fortress. Explore fascinating Etruscan artifacts, remnants of a civilization that once thrived in this region.

San Pellegrino Neighborhood: Wander through the charming San Pellegrino neighborhood, a maze of narrow streets and medieval houses. Discover hidden piazzas, quaint shops, and a glimpse into the local way of life in one of the largest Medieval boroughs in all of Europe.


Viterbo Underground (optional): For a unique experience, venture into the mysterious world of Viterbo’s underground network. A labyrinth of tunnels and caves, some of Etruscan origin, offer a glimpse into the city’s hidden depths. Keep in mind this might not be for everyone.

Piazza del Gesù: Step into the timeless Piazza del Gesù, with its beautiful fountain and San Silvestro del Gesù Church, originally dating to the year 1080. History buffs will be interested to know that Henry of Cornwall, cousin of King Edward I, was executed here in 1271. One of the city’s most famous landmarks is also here, the thirteenth-century Borgognone Tower.

Piazza del Plebiscito is a Renaissance square adorned with the frescoed Palazzo dei Priori, Viterbo’s city hall. Admire the intricate details and soak in the atmosphere of this historic square.

A Feast for the Senses

Thermal Baths: Viterbo is renowned for its natural hot springs. Relax and rejuvenate in the thermal baths scattered around the city, some dating back to Etruscan times.

Flavors of Tuscia: Indulge in the culinary delights of Viterbo, a perfect combination of the regions of Tuscany and Lazio. Sample traditional dishes like pasta alla gricia, made with guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino romano cheese, and black pepper. Don’t forget to savor the local wines produced in the volcanic soil of the region.

Festivals and Events: Throughout the year, Viterbo comes alive with vibrant festivals and events. In early September, witness the spectacular festival dedicated to the city’s patron saint and the “Macchina di Santa Rosa”, a 30-meter-high tower made by artisans and built on a new frame each year. It is then carried through the streets by over 100 porters known as “Facchini” and accompanied by music and fireworks not to mention, thousands of onlookers.

More to See in the Immediate Area

While you are in Tuscia, you cannot miss a visit to one of the most intriguing villages in all of Italy, Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as the “Dying City”. Perched upon a tufo mountaintop, the sparsely populated Bagnoregio (population under 100) is connected to the mainland by a bridge and has become one of the most photographed locations on the entire peninsula.

viterbo-civita di bagnoregio

You can also visit the lovely town of Bolsena with its magnificent volcanic lake and if you want to explore more Etruscan ruins, head to the nearby towns of Tuscania and Tarquinia.
Explore even more places to visit in the Viterbo province in these articles.

Viterbo offers something for everyone, from history buffs and architecture enthusiasts to nature lovers and foodies. So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of discovery, and embark on an unforgettable journey to this captivating Italian city.

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