History and culture, thermal springs and well-being, food and wine: many are the ingredients that make Viterbo a destination not to be missed this year. Beautiful in any season, this city – the beating heart of the Tuscia area in Northern Lazio – offers the opportunity to live unique and unforgettable experiences, which are as good as the ones you can make in Rome…or maybe better.
A little medieval gem, Viterbo is nestled between Rome and Tuscany and enjoys a strategic position: its province includes 30 Km of coastline with lovely beaches, two volcanic lakes – Lake Bolsena and Lake Vico -, several thermal springs and the green Cimini mountains.
The history of Viterbo dates back to prehistory. First the Etruscans then the Romans left a significant mark in this territory: many of the symbols that still characterize Viterbo witness the strong presence of these two ancient civilizations. Take, for instance, the acronym FAVL: still visible nowadays on many fountains and commemorative plaques in town, legend has it that it stands for the four Etruscan villages (Fanum, Arbanum, Vetulonia, Longula) whose union gave birth to Viterbo. Even the lion – the official symbol of the city – is strictly linked to the Roman cult of Hercules.
It is in the Middle Ages though that Viterbo makes its debut on the world scene and begins to look like the city we currently know. In the XIII century in fact it becomes the City of the Popes as Pope Alexander IV – threatened by the Ghibelline faction in Rome –transferred the Papal Curia to Viterbo in 1257. The city was the Papal Seat until 1281 and during these 24 years it had a remarkable development.
The Palazzo dei Papi (Popes’ Palace) – where the Curia was hosted – became particularly famous in 1270 when, as the Cardinals were struggling to elect a new Pope after the death of Clement IV (it eventually took them 1006 days), the citizens of Viterbo locked them inside the palace to try and speed up their decision making process. Hence the word Conclave (literally: with a key), which was born on this occasion.
Viterbo’s Medieval city centre is the largest and best preserved in Europe. Historical buildings, towers, courtyards, profferli (ancient external staircases), fountains and squares: everything is so perfectly intact that exploring the medieval quarter feels like stepping back in time, when the pace of life was slower and very much enjoyable. A gentle, slow walk around is then the best way to take in so much beauty, to discover all the fascinating little shops and restaurants dotted around and to really appreciate the value of being in a place like this.
An ancient yet versatile city for your italian holiday
With such a varied offer, Viterbo is a destination that satisfies many different desires, especially if you are looking for a unique, off- the- beaten- path experience, far from the madding crowd usually found in other famous Italian cities like Florence, Venice and Rome, just to name a few.
Choosing Viterbo means catching the opportunity to live for a few days in a true Italian style, enjoying the “made in Tuscia” traditions, the local cuisine, the excellent wines and collecting fond memories of total relaxation. Such a versatility will allow you to select every single detail of your holiday, combining different experiences without having to travel far every time you wish to try something new. Come for the thermal springs and you will be spoilt for choice between the Hotel Salus Terme and the Terme dei Papi, two of the most luxurious spas in town. Come for the hiking and you could try a new trail every day. Come for the food and wine and you will find an array of restaurants offering the perfect mix between tradition and contemporary facilities, top quality local ingredients and courtesy.