Viterbo, the city of Popes

Viterbo is an amazing medieval town, still surrounded by its beautiful and intact medieval walls. Walking through the medieval quarter of San Pellegrino is like stepping back in time. It is known as the “City of the Popes” due to the period in which Viterbo was the Papal seat

Viterbo was a small Etruscan settlement. Its importance grew in the Roman period, because of the thermal bath surrounding the town and the importance of the via Cassia which connected the town to Rome. Anyway, the town had its proverbial 15 minutes of fame at the end of the 13th century when it became a papal Seat. The papal see was moved from Rome by  Pope Alexander IV to get away from the hostile climate of persecutions and riots, and popes lived here until 1281.

The most beautiful monuments, fountains, and neighbors of Viterbo date back to this period. The Papal Palace, with its beautiful loggia, is the most known building of the town: from here the pope would come out during the years in which the town was papal see. The building of the palace finished in 1267.

The San Pellegrino quarter was the residential area of medieval Viterbo. The nobility of its inhabitants is witnessed by the refined palaces and the elegant corners.  Here the houses are all built with “Peperino”, the local volcanic grey stone. It’s the largest and best-preserved medieval city center in Europe, with buildings dating back to the 11th century.
Equally suggestive is Piano Scarano, another medieval quarter of the city, once populated by peasants and artisans.

Strolling along the streets of Viterbo is like a walk through history, but the town bears the signs of the Etruscans and the Romans, the two civilizations from which Viterbo originated.
Outside the city wall, the necropolis of Castel d’Asso and the city of Ferento are important evidence of these civilizations, but we can also enjoy a visit to the Museo Nazionale Etrusco Rocca Albornoz inside.


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