Viterbo and Tuscia
Viterbo, city of the popes
The enchanting city of Viterbo in central Italy is tucked away beneath the Cimini Mountains between two picturesque lakes—Lake Vico and Lake Bolsena. Viterbo is characterized by a medieval atmosphere which is due in part to the 11th and 12th century walls that surround the historic city center. Medieval villages like Viterbo are common throughout its province, an area that has been referred to as Tuscia and that was once under Etruscan influence. Throughout its long history, Viterbo has been the stage for tales of knights, popes, and saints that continue to entertain curious visitors to this day.
Located just 80 kilometers (50 miles) North of Rome, Viterbo is called the “City of the Popes” because the Palazzo dei Papi (Papal Palace) was the seat of the papacy for two decades of the 13th century. The Palazzo also hosted the first Papal Conclave, the process of selecting a new Pope during which cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are locked in a room together until a decision is made. The practice continues to this day in the Vatican. The Duomo of San Lorenzo, Viterbo’s impressive cathedral situated next to the Palazzo dei Papi, also has papal connections as it was the location for the official coronations of seven popes as well as the burial site for two popes.
Viterbo is positioned in a thermal area that contains abundant hot springs famous for their healing properties. These baths have been in use since the days of the Etruscans and were also used by the Romans and throughout the Middle Ages by several popes.
The city of Viterbo is a city of art and culture with something for everyone: intriguing archaeological areas, historic medieval churches, palaces that date back to the Renaissance, thermal spas for a relaxing getaway, laudable cuisine, and unforgettable cultural traditions.