Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance churches, monasteries, towers, stone houses, fountains and wonderful medieval neighborhoods are jealously guarded by the massive surrounding walls and towers that once they protected Viterboan ancient Etruscan city and one of the most incredible destinations discover in Lazio.
Known as the “City of the Popes” Having been a papal seat, it still retains the splendor of those times, even if its origins are even older and can be admired in its incredible historic center that developed around the ancient Castrum Viterbii on the Colle del Duomo, as early as year 1000.
Visiting the city will give you the impression of taking a trip back in time: the neighborhoods of the 13th century San Pellegrino and Pianoscarano have remained essentially intact.
Below you will find a useful guide to what to do and see in Viterbo and the surrounding area, Tuscia Viterbese.
Viterbo: what you must do
- Palace of the Popes
- Cathedral of San Lorenzo
- Basilica of San Francesco la Rocca
- Church of Santa Rosa
- Baths of the Popes
- San Pellegrino neighborhood
- Alessandri Palace
- Pamphili Palace
- Viterbo spa
- Palazzo Chigi
- Valentino Palace
- Mazzatosta Palace
- Lomellino Palace
- Foul Valley
What to see in Viterbo
One day is enough to fall in love with Viterbo and a whole weekend to follow some interesting itineraries to discover Tussia.
Your visit cannot but start from its symbol, the Palace of the Popes which was the papal residence commissioned by Alexander IV from 1257 to 1281.
The first (and largest) conference in the history of the Church of Rome was held inside the Conclave Hall. You will be enchanted by the beauty of the Loggia dei Papi, in the center of which you will find a beautiful fountain.
Don’t miss the back of the Papal Palace overlooking the Faul Valley. From there you can admire artist Steward Johnson’s installation entitled The Awakening.
The palace is part of the monumental complex of the Colle del Duomo, along with the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
Inside the Cathedral of San Lorenzo are kept the work of the Blessing of Christ by Girolamo da Cremona, the sarcophagus of Pope John XXI, the Baroque Choir and the Sacristy. Before you leave, check out the incredible Cosmatesque floor at your feet.
Enter his fairy tale world Historic center of Viterbo visit the medieval neighborhoods: via San Pellegrino is one of the most incredible parts of the city.
You will be mesmerized by its beauty Alessandri Palaceof the ancient tower and the Casa Poscia. Walking through the narrow cobbled streets with your nose turned upwards, you will be able to see stone buildings, arches, courtyards and loggias.
Passing the Paradox Bridge, you reach the Pianoscarano area.
At this point in the ride you will have already guessed how many fountains they exist in Viterbo. Most were built in the classic “spindle” shape and made with the most popular local stone, pepperino. The water that serves these fountains comes from the nearby Cimini Mountains, the chain that separates Viterbo from Rome.
The oldest fountain is the Fontana Grande which you will find a few steps from the Porta Romana. Do not miss the Fountain of San Tommaso in Piazza della Morte and the one you will find in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Priori, while one of the largest in the city is the Fountain in Piazza della Rocca.
Reach it Political Museum housed in the former convent of Santa Maria della Verità where you can admire the ruins of the Tuscia necropolises, while in the Gallery you will find many works from the years between the 12th and 14th centuries, including two paintings by Sebastiano del Piombo (the Pietà and the Flagellation ) and some works by Antonio del Massaro, a student of Pinturicchio and Perugino.
Do not miss a visit to the church of Santa Maria Nuova, one of the oldest in Viterbo built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Zeus, whose head detail is on the portal.
Viterbo has great devotion Santa Rosa who is also the patron saint of the city and who is celebrated with the Santa Rosa machinean event that welcomes thousands of spectators every year and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The September 3 a triumphal canopy made by the people of Viterbo raises the statue of Santa Rosa above the rooftops of Viterbo, a kind of tower illuminated by torches and electric lights. The Machine is carried by hand by Santa Rosa’s faithful porters.
Do not miss a visit to Church of Santa Rosa to which is annexed the old convent of Poor Clare. Just outside the city, in the hamlet of Borgo San Cimino, the Abbey of San Martino al Cimino is worth a visit.
Beneath the city of Viterbo is a network of tunnels that reach from the historic center to beyond the walls. The feasible stretch is the one that winds under Piazza della Morte (here you will find all the useful information to get to know Viterbo Sotterranea).
In addition to medieval traces, the city retains important Renaissance and Mannerist remains both inside and outside the walls.
The great families that dominated the area for centuries, the Orsini and Farnese above all, and the various popes who reigned in the succession of San Pietro in Tuscia, donated to the city both the Palazzo dei Priori (now the municipal seat) and and the beautiful Villa Lande (located in Bagnania) with its beautiful Italianate garden and fountain water features.
However, not everyone knows that the Palazzo dei Priori is located next to an older building: the Palazzo del Potestà, connected to the former by an ancient corridor.
Viterbo is also there city of baths. The oldest are the Terme dei Papi and they owe their name to Pope Nicholas V who built a palace to enjoy the thermal benefits.
The building was named Bagno del Papa. In addition to the paid facilities, on the outskirts of the city you can visit free spas such as Terme del Bullicame and Piscine Carletti.
In order not to forget Viterbo’s Etruscan origin, visit its characteristic rock towns Castel d’Asso and Norchia (not forgetting nearby Tarquinia) and the location of Acquarossa.
If you are passionate about cinema and TV series, you will find many famous places in Viterbo. There are many series and mini-series set in the City of the Popes (just think “Il Maresciallo Rocca” with Gigi Proietti).
But even the great cinema chose Tuscia and you will be able to recognize the scenery and the streets of masterpieces such as “Othello” by Orson Welles, “Il Vigile” with Alberto Sordi or “I Vitelloni”.
- Civita di Bagnoregio
Video 15 things to discover in Viterbo
In Viterbo with the children
Viterbo, one of the most beautiful and underrated places in Lazio, is a wonder to discover with young children, starting with the enchanted world of the medieval neighborhoods.
So don’t miss a route that goes from the Palazzo dei Papi to the San Pellegrino district, visit the Viterbo Underground and relax in the city’s spas.
If you are looking for green spaces, you can go to the Faul Valley, below the city or to a small park near the Porta della Verità. A short distance from Viterbo, you must definitely get to the Bomarzo Monster Park.
Viterbo is the starting point to visit the wonders of Tuscia: nearby Tuscania and Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city, deserve a long stop.
In Vitorchiano, don’t miss a visit to the Moai of Easter Island and try one of the incredible activities in the Parco dei Cinque Sensi, where you can also sleep.