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Viterbo – a taste of Tuscia in Lazio

  • Viterbo – a taste of Tuscia in Lazio

    Viterbo, the capital of Tuscia, former Etruria, makes a beguiling day out from Orvieto. Southern Umbria has much in common with Tuscia, the northern corner of Lazio. Forget the apparent strangeness of moving into another region and discover the echoes of Umbria, from the Etruscans to the impact of the Papacy. Overlooked Viterbo, directly south of Orvieto, also comes as a refreshing change after the over-popularity of too many perfect Tuscan towns.

    Known as “the city of Popes,” Viterbo owes its medieval heritage to its brief period as Papal capital in the 13th century. Its medieval heyday is apparent in the showpiece squares, and in the charming San Pellegrino district east of the Cathedral, dotted with craft shops and charming back alleys.

    The city centrepiece is Palazzo dei Papi, the Gothic Papal Palace, built as a residence for Popes to escape the heat, unhealthiness and clamour of Rome. In 1271, during a three-year conclave to elect a new Pope, the exasperated townspeople tore the roof off the great hall where the cardinals were conferring, and put them on bread and water. A new pope—Gregory X—was swiftly elected.

    After exploring the town, make time for a refreshing dip in the local hot springs. Terme dei Papi spa complex offers a temptingly vast limestone pool fed by Viterbo's famous sulphurous waters, which pour in at 59°C (138°F).

    Address: Viterbo Tourist Office. Piazza Martiri d'Ungheria, 01100 Viterbo
    Web: www.visitviterbo.it

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