Before heading out to the stunning region of Tuscany from the imperial city of Rome, a stopover at Viterbo is well worth your time. This medieval walled hill-town is located north of the Lazio region and famous for ancient Etruscan relics, medieval architecture and great…
Before heading out to the stunning region of Tuscany from the imperial city of Rome, a stopover at Viterbo is well worth your time.
This medieval walled hill-town is located north of the Lazio region and famous for ancient Etruscan relics, medieval architecture and great antique finds. You can step into the pages of medieval history at the town’s historic center or go way back to ancient times at the nearby Etruscan archaeological sites.
If ambling around the countryside is more your thing, you can go on easy hikes around the verdant landscape dotted with sparkling deep lakes. You can also take a tour at the therapeutic thermal spas of the area or take an excursion around Viterbo’s grand villas.
To get to the atmospheric little town of Viterbo from Rome, you can take a Cotral bus from the Saxa Rubra stop or you can just hop on a commuter train from Stazione Ostiense for a two hour trip. It’s not fast but the pleasant scenery along the way will keep you happily occupied.
The train will stop at Porta Romana station of Viterbo, just outside the medieval town walls. Make sure to visit the tourist information office located right at the station to get your hands on maps and brochures of the local sights and attractions. With your haul at hand, sit back and relax for a moment and plan out the itinerary that best suits your interests before starting your tour of the area.
Although many of Viterbo’s attractions can be found in the town’s surrounding areas, the walled Old Town at the top of the hill is a must-visit. It is a small and compact place which makes lazy strolls around town a must. Viterbo’s highlights are centrally located on two of its most popular town squares, the neighboring Piazza San Lorenzo and Piazza del Plebiscito.
Begin from Piazza San Lorenzo where you will find the famous Palazzo dei Papi or the Papal Palace, the site of the longest conclave (papal election) which is three years in the making. The Palazzo also features a beautiful seven-arched loggia, which is a must-see. The cathedral of San Lorenzo is nearby. Although the cathedral is not spectacular at first glance, it features ornate details such as the striking tiled floor, the lavish font and interesting frescoes that are worth checking out. Also, go and see the neighboring Museo del Colle del Duomo to view the church’s valued treasures.
Piazza del Plebiscito, on the other hand, boasts of the towns important civic buildings such as the Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo del Podesta. The piazza also makes for a lovely place to savor some Italian fare from one of the many cafes or small restaurants surrounding the square, with a view of the piazza’s beautiful fountain. You can then proceed downhill to Palazzo Comunali where you will discover lavish rooms and spectacular frescoes.
If you are interested in Viterbo’s museums, check out the 14th century fortress of Rocca Albornoz to visit the Museo Nazionale or Piazza Crispi for a look at the exhibits of Museo Civico. Both museums display valuable finds from the Etruscan era.
Walking aimlessly around the walled town is also rewarding. You will discover countless fountains, interesting sculptures at unexpected places and several fascinating shops with plenty of antiques to offer.
Finally, don’t miss the attractions near Viterbo such as the spa complex of Terme dei Papi, the hot pools of Bagnaccio, the spectacular gardens of Villa Lante and the wine offerings of Montefiascone, among many others.