Viterbo

Viterbo is in Lazio, a central region of Italy.

Palace of the Popes

Understand

As a settlement Viterbo dates back to Etruscan times. Between around 1100 and 1300, it was one of the most important cities in Europe. By the 13th Century it had 50 castles under its control. It was the place where Popes took refuge when driven out of Rome and for several decades was the seat of the Papacy. It was the scene of battles between potential invaders of Rome and papal armies. With the departure of the Papacy to Orvieto and then to Avignon Viterbo declined in importance. It was further hit by Black Death, which killed two-thirds of its population and a major earthquake in 1349. Last century it was damaged by appalling Fascist-era town planning and then by Allied bombs. These days its population is about the same as it was in the 13th Century, at around 60,000. Apart from its tradition its main claim to fame now is that Italy’s gold reserves are held there.

Get in

By train

Main railway stations are Porta Fiorentina and Porta Romana. Both are quite close to the center. From Rome: trains almost every hour, mostly departing from Roma Ostiense station (go and return for 10 €). The trip takes about 2 hours.

By car

From Rome take the ring road of GRA to the Cassia bis exit and follow this road to Viterbo. An alternative, but longer route, is to take the A1 motorway (from Rome follow the signs towards Firenze, and exit at Orte. Then take the S204 towards Viterbo (about 3 € tolls from Rome). It´s not really comfortable to drive inside the historical centre, as all the streets are quite narrow and "one way". Better to park your car out of the town walls.

Get around

The historical centre is small enough to be visited on foot.

For longer distances you can use the local bus network (ordinary 90 min. ticket for 0,70 €; daily ticket for 1,55 €). Tickets can be found at tobacconists, and must be validated when getting on the bus.

See

In the San Peligrino area
Once a palace, now the Town Hall.
Cathedral

Do

Already famous in Roman times, and quoted by Dante in his "Divine Comedy"...having a bath in one of their natural thermal springs is, perhaps, what you would never miss from Viterbo. As they are in surrounding open-air countryside areas, you can use them all year, every time of the day (for free, of course). Water reachs temperatures of 55°C, so the experience gets more amazing in freezing days (and nights).

The most famous ones are called Bulicame (2 km from Viterbo, on the road that leads to Tuscania). On the other hand there are also some springs run as spas centres (Terme dei Papi and Pianeta Benessere)

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Go next

Viterbo is the center of a really fascinating area and there are many places that can be explored by car in an easy day trip. To the east is the Etruscan city of Tarquinia, to the north Orvieto and in a general southerly direction places such as the park of monsters at Bomarzo and the Etruscan/Roman remains of Sutri should not be missed.

Routes through Viterbo

END  N  S  Lake Bracciano Aventino-Testaccio, Rome


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