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Viterbo Province

A province of Italy: 3611 square kilometers. 1991 population: 288,000 in 60 comuni.

[image ALT: zzz]

The parish church of S. Lorenzo Nuovo at the N edge of the province, near Lake Bolsena.

Viterbo is the northernmost of the 5 provinces in the autonomous region of Lazio. Geographically, much of it is on rather barren volcanic land, and the larger lakes in the area are volcano craters — extinct, I hope. Historically, we are often in Etruscan territory, so that many of the most interesting known Etruscan sites are found in Viterbo province: Tarquinia, Caere, Vulci, Tuscania, to name a few.


[image ALT: A view of the courtyard of the Palazzo Comunale of Viterbo (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 1 photo, 8 links ]

Viterbo is an elegant, rich and lively small city, the most urban environment in the Lazio outside of Rome itself. It has always served as a retreat away from the capital: now filmmakers and writers, in the Middle Ages the Popes; not surprisingly then, it's one of the most consistently medieval towns in Italy.


[image ALT: zzz Bomarzo (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 4 photos ]

Bomarzo, famous thruout Italy for a very odd 16c park inhabited principally by monsters. An extraordinary place.


[image ALT: A 12th‑century stone lion. It guards the main door of the cathedral of Civita Castellana (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 2 pages, 5 photos ]

Civita Castellana, the city of Falerii, centuries older than Rome, that Camillus destroyed in the 4c B.C., now poses no threat, and is in an area very rich in Roman and pre-Roman remains, as you might expect. The star of the town is definitely the cathedral.


[image ALT: A small town on the top of a hill, seen from cornfields far below. It is a view of Orte (Lazio, central Italy).]

[ 1 page, 2 photos ]

Everyone who travels around central Italy knows Orte: that's the big railroad station where you stop and wait a bit, or maybe change trains if you have to. In fact, there's a town attached to that station, positively decaying in its hoary antiquity. Not to everyone's taste, but of interest.

Viterbo province is often referred to as Tuscia, a name derived from "Etrusci", the Etruscans, and it's where most of the famous Etruscan tombs and cities can be seen; so the following link is in order:


[image ALT: A stylized representation of a metal hand-mirror, taken from the binding of a book. It is an Etruscan mirror motif representing that book, George Dennis's 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria'.]

[ 8/3/02: some slight construction still, but the complete text is there:
107 engravings, 2 plans, 6 maps; 4 photos of my own ]

George Dennis's celebrated work, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (1848), though only half of it is given over to the Latium, is a very good book and even today remains one of the best possible general resources for Etruscan monuments in the area; but it's also a fascinating glimpse into the beginnings of modern archaeology — and very useful to anyone with an interest in the entire countryside of the Northern Lazio, as for example if you're planning to cover it on foot, horseback or bicycle.

I do not know this part of Italy as well as I could; you will therefore often find yourself using offsite resources.


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Site updated: 7 Oct 12