At 326 meters above sea level, Viterbo is the largest medieval inner city of Europe. Founded by the Etruscans, it was a rich and powerful city. Between 13th and 14th century, the city of Viterbo became the favourite seat of many Popes who chose the city to escape from insurrections and corruption of Rome: Not without reason it is called the “City of the Popes”. As you can see from the frescos inside Palazzo dei Priori, Viterbo controlled nearly 50 castles and by visiting the Museum of the Hill of the Duomo and the Civic Museum you can trace the important history of the city. The great local religiousness is expressed every 3rd September with the “Macchina of Santa Rosa”, whose body is preserved in the church of the same name. If you walk through the streets of San Pellegrino district, you can fully immerse yourself in the medieval city of Viterbo. Finally, are not to be underestimated the exceptional gastronomy, the healthy thermal bath, the full of nature surroundings and the medieval villages.
At 592 meters
above sea level, Montefiascone is an important town of the Alta Tuscia
Viterbese and it is located about 5 km east of Lake Bolsena surrounded by the
typical Tuscia landscape. The village is located in the southeast part of the
caldera of the Monti Volsini and with its almost 600 meters of height,
Montefiascone is the highest town in the province of Viterbo. It is also
considered the panoramic viewpoint of Tuscia, because from there you can admire
the impressive view over most of Lake Bolsena. The whole territory, very rich
in tuff, is a favourable environment for the development of the viticulture.
Thanks to this, Montefiascone became one of the major wine-producing area of
Lazio. In this regard, legend has it that in 1111, while Henry V of Germany was
on his way to Rome to be crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the Bishop
and the great wine lover Johannes Defuk was also arriving, ordering his servant
Martin to preceded him along the way in order to locate the taverns with the
best wine and marked them with “Est” (that means “There is”, referring to good
wine) and so he did. Arrived in Montefiascone, he found an excellent product:
The wine was so good that it received the highest rating. For this, he repeated
the established signal three times and next to the first tavern, he wrote “Est!
Est!! Est!!!” with six exclamation marks. The cardinal shared the opinion and
loved the drink so much that he decided to stay in town for three days.
At 420 meters above
sea level, Acquapendente is nestled in the hills of northern Lazio on the
border with Tuscany and it is part of the province of Viterbo. Known as “The
Jerusalem of Europe”, the Acquapendente village is crossed by the ancient Via
Cassia and its name is due to the presence of several waterfalls that flow into
the Paglia river. Although Acquapendente is a village of modest size, it has an
incredible tourist vocation because nestling in the landscape and naturalistic
context of the Tuscia Viterbese, it is the perfect destination for those who
love history, relaxation and spiritual well-being.
Caprarola, a characteristic town in the province of Viterbo and located 493 meters above sea level, is nestled in verdant “Tuscia Romana” (a territory formerly occupied by Etruscans). It is a somewhat hidden gem, but it offers one of the most extraordinary natural beauty of the Region of Lazio: From the mountain system of volcanic origin, namely the Cimini Hills with lush and dense forests, to the fascinating Lake Vico formed inside a very ancient volcano that collapsed on itself. Caprarola is dominated by the majestic Palazzo Farnese built in the 16th century and made by the Cardinal Alessandro Farnese his headquarters, making the village an architecturally unique place. At the door of Caprarola, the Lake Vico Nature Reserve lies surrounded by centuries-old oak and beech forests.
At 145 meters above sea level in the province of Viterbo but half way between the Country Seat and the City of Rome is located Civita Castellana, a village perched along the Via Flaminia, which is expected to have existed for more than three thousand years. Civita Castellana has an interesting archaeological, artistic and cultural heritage: This small village stands out within a landscape characterized by a copious presence of red tuff, generated by the eruptions of the Vicano Volcano. The Fortress of Civita Castellana, also known as Forte Sangallo, was built by the will of the infamous Borgia Pope, Alexander VI in the last years of the 15th century. For many years it was the papal residence and only for a brief period a prison, instead nowadays it became the home to the National Archaeological Museum of Agro Falisco, which houses ancient relics, real treasures found in the surrounding area.
At 235 meters above sea level, the City of Tivoli is located at the foot of Lucretili Mountains, a splendid naturalistic landscape formed by valleys and very extensive plains, that together constitute the border between Lazio and Abruzzo. Tivoli is characterized by fairly heterogeneous territory, marked by an evocative mountainous and urbanistic heritage and crossed by the Aniene river, which here stopping, makes beautiful waterfalls. In 1550 the city of Tivoli triumphantly welcomed the new governor Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este appointed by Pope Julius II. Cardinal Ippolito was the missed Pope of the long conclave of 1550, and although he was one of the most powerful in Italy, because of the Spanish veto he failed to earn the papal tiara. Arriving in Tivoli, he refused to stay in the wing of the Convent attached to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore reserved for the governors of the city. The Cardinal mustered up the best artists who were around at the time, and in 1560 the work began on the magnificent Villa D’Este, which became the Cardinal’s summer residence.
At 408 meters above sea level, Subiaco perched on a rocky hill in the upper Aniene Valley. It is one of the most important areas of Lazio thanks to the great appeal of its religious monasteries, the beauty of its monuments and the charm of the surrounding nature. The natural structure of the town, characterized by the Aniene river (a tributary of the Tiber), greatly influenced its historical development and facilitated the first human settlements. In 1773 the spiritual power passed to Giovanni Angelo Braschi, later elected Pope Pius VI, who worked much for the development of Subiaco enlarging and transforming the paper mill, establishing the Public Library, restoring the Fortress of Borgia, establishing the Seminary and making the via Sublacense drivable. The grateful population of Subiaco dedicated him the “Triumphal Arch”, inaugurated in 1789.
At 424 meters above sea level, Anagni is known as the City of the Popes to give birth to four Popes (Pope Innocent III, Pope Alexander IV, Pope Gregory IX and Pope Boniface VIII). In particular, in the region of Lazio the name of Anagni is linked to the events of Pope Boniface VIII and the episode known as The Anagni Slap. The ancient Anagnia, the capital of the Ernici, is located on a hill in the middle Valle Latina (Latin Valley) or Valle del Sacco in southeast Lazio and stands on a hill between the Ernici Mountains and the Valle del Sacco. Legend counts it among the “città saturnie”, namely the five towns of Lazio founded by the God Saturn (Anagni, Alatri, Arpino, Atina and Ferentino also known as Antino).
At 426 meters above sea level, Castel Gandolfo is a village in the heart of The Roman Castles, in the area of the Capital City. Papal summer residence whose beauty was identified as one of the most beautiful village of Italy. According to some historians, the site of today’s Castel Gandolfo would coincide with the site of the ancient capital of the Latin League, namely the City of Alba Longa (which the tradition says that it was founded by Ascanius, the son of Aeneas), whose supremacy was obscured by the rise of Rome. In 398 B.C. during the battle of Veii, the Romans, in order to regulate the water level of the Lake Albano, dug a tunnel in the rock for a kilometre and a half making the today still visible outfall a great work of hydraulic engineering. The Papal Palace dates back to the 17th century and it was built by Pope Urban VIII. In 2018 Pope Francis has decided to open the residence to the public.
The ancient city of Nepet (from the Etruscan word Nepa=water), i.e. the city of waters, stands on the area known as Agro Falisco squeezed between the Sabatini mountains to the south, the Cimini mountains to the north and the Tiber valley to the east. The building of Nepi began as early as the 8th century BC as part of the Narcense and later Etruscan territory until it became a Roman ‘municipium’. In the 4th century it became an Episcopal seat and was subjected to numerous pillages during the barbarian invasions. In the 8th century A.D., the Duke of Nepi, at the head of a strong army, descended on Rome and with skilful manoeuvres on the Conclave had his brother appointed Pope under the name of Constantine II. In 1131 Nepi was established as a Free Commune and in the struggles between the Pope and the Emperor it supported the latter, and after alternating fortunes it became a feudal possession and was granted over time to the Orsini, Colonna, Borgia and Sforza families. In 1499, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) took Nepi away from the Sforzas and gave it to his daughter Lucrezia, who administered it well. After various vicissitudes, Paul III Farnese ceded the town to his son Pier Luigi, and during this period Nepi experienced a prosperous and prolific era. The town is rich in testimonies of the papal presence and among the 20 churches in the town, the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, the church of the Rosary and the church of S. Biagio, which has been declared a national monument, are worth mentioning. Among the civil architecture, the Rocca dei Borgia (which hosted Lucrezia Borgia and Popes Alexander VI and Paul III), the aqueduct, the bastions and the medieval towers deemed ‘impregnable’ by Vasari are worth a visit. Not to be missed are the Catacomb of Santa Savinilla and the ‘Tre Ponti’ necropolis. During your visit to the city, you must try the excellent cured meats (salame cotto and scapicollata) and Roman pecorino cheese.
This small town in the province of Rome has ancient origins dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. The toponym may indicate a place where iron was mined and worked. The original nucleus of the settlement is probably to be identified with the ancient Verrugo, long disputed between the Romans and the Volscians. According to the Latin historians Appian and Plutarch, the decisive battle of the civil war between the factions led by Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Silla, which ended in favour of the latter, took place near Colleferro in 82 BC. From the 9th century , the city became part of the possessions of the Papal States, changing hands between the noble Roman families of the Salviati, the Borghese and finally the Dora Pamphili. During World War II, Colleferro suffered enormous damage, requiring almost complete reconstruction. A few steps from the town centre, along the Via Casilina, the remains of the 13th-century town walls and the ruins of the Piombinara Castle, built in the 11th century, are visible. Of particular interest are the shelters excavated under the town and used during World War II as protection from aerial bombardment. They stretched for 6 km and were accessible from 15 different parts of the town.