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In and About Viterbo Vitorchiano

Many little towns of Central Italy were built on sites chosen because they were easily defensible: the area around Viterbo is made of tuffaceous rock which is often cut even by small streams and this fact was exploited to found towns in very inaccessible locations. Vitorchiano a town a few miles off Viterbo is protected by two deep ravines which allow access to the town only through a short stretch of land. Thus there is only one gate in the medieval walls which protect Vitorchiano.

Main gate and walls
Main gate and walls of Vitorchiano

The view of Vitorchiano from the other side of the ravine is impressive and it shows how the available space was fully exploited by building houses on the very edge of the precipice.

The ravine protecting Vitorchiano
The ravine protecting Vitorchiano

Vitorchiano was at first an Etruscan town and later on became a Roman colony: what now is the Palazzo Comunale was the limit of the Roman castrum. In the early XIIIth century Vitorchiano sided with Rome against Viterbo and for this reason it was named la Fedele (the Faithful) and its citizens were given the honour to mount guard of the Capitol. This explains the inscription above the windows of Palazzo Comunale (SUMMA FIDELITAS) and above its entrance (SENATus POPulus Que ROManorum). In the picture here below (and in the background of this page) you can also see the main fountain of Vitorchiano which has a spindle shape which is typical of the fountains of Viterbo.

Palazzo comunale
Palazzo Comunale

Vitorchiano retains an intact texture of medieval streets and houses, which very often have a short flight of steps leading to the upper floor.

Typical houses
Typical houses with outside steps leading to the upper floor

The only non-medieval thing to see in Vitorchiano is the baroque urn with the body of S. Amanzio. For more baroque angels click here.

The only baroque memory in Vitorchiano
The only baroque memory in Vitorchiano

In and about Viterbo - other pages:
Orte and Vasanello
S. Maria della Querce
S. Martino al Cimino

Walks with Ferdinand Gregorovius in the Roman countryside

some other walks:
A walk to Porta Furba
Via Appia Antica from Cecilia Metella to Torre in Selci
Via Appia Antica from Torre in Selci to Frattocchie

See my Home Page on Baroque Rome or my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller

All images © 1999 - 2003 by Roberto Piperno. Write to