Viterbo – The Pope Water springs
Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I am surrounded by history. It’s like I am cursed with seeing things from the past.
Well, I am finding myself in Viterbo, an Italian fortress situated 80Km North of Rome, surrounded by the mountains: Monti Cimini and Monti Volsini. The place was an Etruscan settlement called Surenna. The Roman army destroyed the Etruscan centres but benefited greatly from this civilisation.
The city is one the best preserved places in central Italy in terms of architecture. The first report of the city dates to the eighth century CE, when it is identified as Castrum Viterbii. It was fortified in 773 by the Lombard King Desiderius in his vain attempt to conquer Rome. When the popes switched to the Frankish support, Viterbo became part of the Papal States, but this status was to be highly contested by the emperors in the following centuries, until 1095 from which it is known that it became a free commune (Wikipedia).
The entrance to the city is made through medieval gates and the border is surrounded by stone walls dated from the 11th and 12th centuries CE. Inside the walls, a new world has appeared. Paved streets, medieval architecture, vintage shops, cafes, The Pope Palace (Pallazo dei Popi), the Cathedral of St. Lorenzo, The Palazzo Comunale (begun 1460), Palazzo del Podestà (1264), and Palazzo della Prefettura (rebuilt 1771) located on the central square Piazza del Plebiscito. There are so many monuments in Viterbo, to see and read the history of all of them you need to spend more than two weeks.
Viterbo was one of the most preferred residences by Popes, starting with Pope Eugene III (1145–1146). There are many churches and religious artefacts, each of them having its own story. Walking on the streets, you can meet people who hand out fliers and give information about the places you walk by.
There are famous thermal hot springs (Terme dei Papi) in Viterbo where the Pope used to bath. Gregory IX , Pope Bonifacio IX , Pope Gregorio IX and Pope Pio II were healing and relaxing here. Today the springs are open for everybody and it has a hospital based on thermal water and mud recuperation. It is so amazing how hot this water is even in winter.
Today the city has developed around the medieval area with modern flats and other modern buildings. There is an important Academy of Fine Arts, the University of Tuscia, the Italian Army's Aviation Command headquarters and Training Centre (Italian: Scuola marescialli dell'Aeronautica Militare). The only airport close to the city, the Rome Viterbo Airport, is used for military purposes. On 26 November 2007 Viterbo was chosen by the authorities as the site of the next airport in Lazio to serve Rome.
Accommodation and entertainment is affordable in Viterbo. The architecture is beautiful with a medieval feel, beer is 2 euros (1,5 euros for a coffee, tea or hot chocolate), which is not much. A dinner out (with wine, starter, main dish and desert) is around 40 euros. And they do very good sweets which you must try once you are there. Hotels are between 40-120 euros and you can find nice places to stay depending on your budget.
Kisses and hugs for you :* :)