An unexpected day, one of those which arrive as a surprise.
When you was planning on seeing other places but then somethings happens, but still you don’t want to give up on your trip, even if it is only a one-day trip.
Thus, finally, I discovered Viterbo, which is just a few kilometers away from Rome, but which I was never able to visit… what a shame!
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much… instead I was surprised, pleasantly.
Viterbo: what to see in one day
The City of the Popes is a continuous interweaving of old houses and modern roads, in every step you can re-live all the centuries of animated story which it carries on his shoulders.
Enclosed within the ancient walls and towers, lives the oldest part of the city, where also more interesting things are found, like the medieval district of San Pellegrino.
It is one of the most characteristic districts of Tuscia, where typical houses and the numerous “profferli” – the typical external stairs of the medieval buildings – seem to stubbornly push us towards a past which no longer exists, an ineffable past, that the imagination, here, can make really beautiful, full of invincible memories which stands the test of time.
The buildings, all built of tuff, overlook the “richiastri”, the typical inner courtyards. Then there are tower-houses, buildings which determined the wealth of the owners according to their height and majesty.
This district must offer the best on April and May, the period in which the event “San Pellegrino in bloom” takes place, and every window, staircase, road, is colored and scented by hundreds of flowers.
The Palace of the Popes, is the proof of the importance that Viterbo once had, in addition to being the greatest symbol of medieval times in Viterbo.
Conclave’s lodge and Hall of the Conclave are the most important and significant parts of the building. In this room were elected five popes, and here in this very city the word conclave find its origins.
In 1268 the successor of Urban IV was to be elected here, but the Cardinals could not decide whether to choose an Italian pope or a French one. After a few months the Authority of Viterbo urged the prelates to take a decision, but in response, he was excommunicated. His successor choose the strong way: he shut the gates of the city and ordered that the cardinals were brought and locked down into the Papal Palace (hence the word Conclave, from Latin cum clave, literally “with key”) . But the Cardinals continued on not reaching a decision, so citizens of Viterbo responded with a resounding and decisive action: they removed the roof of the building and the religious were exposed to sun and weather, food was rationed and the cellars sacked. A prelate, due to poor living conditions, even gave the right to vote up just to leave the room before the end of conclave. At that point, after a short time, the new pope was elected by the name of Gregory X.
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo is the main place of worship in the city, is located right next to the Palace of the Popes, and here is the tomb of John XXI, the only Portuguese pope in history, and those of Letizia Bonaparte, Napoleon’s cousin.
Viterbo, what to see in one day: Underground Viterbo
Even the basement of the city are interesting. If you’re superstitious, though, I warn you: you will find the entrance in Piazza della Morte (Death Square).
It is believed that the Etruscans started excavations, to use them as an hydraulic system.
Too bad they are opened to the public only for a small part, a few hundred meters, on two levels, up to 26 feet deep. During medieval feasts, however, they are used for representations, and should be really impressive… as, after all, is the whole city.