Let’s visit Vitorchiano, in the province of Viterbo, in Lazio?
Vitorchiano is a small town in the province of Viterbo, in the region of Lazio. It currently has just over 5,000 inhabitants, and is located at the foot of the Sierra de Cimini, in the valley of the Vezza stream. Like other villages in Tuscia (the region where the Etruscan people lived), it borders on two regions: Tuscany and Umbria. The large rocks on which the city is located give it a very interesting aspect. So, let’s go to Vitorchiano! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
Today I bring you a post about a very special city: Vitorchiano, in the region of Lazio. The story of Vitorchiano is very particular and there are historians who say that the city was already inhabited since the Bronze Age, occupied by the first Etruscans and, afterwards, transformed into a Roman fort – not for nothing, the city was a reason for dispute between Viterbo and Rome.
A little history
In 1199 the city was occupied by the armies of Viterbo, who tried to take from them the freedom offered by the manor. At this moment, Rome intervened and freed the city from the armies of Viterbo, however, turned it into a Roman fief. After several and continuous clashes over the possession of the castrum, Rome proclaimed Vitorchiano “Terra Fedelissima all’Urbe” and granted it tax exemptions, the freedom to use the words S.P.Q.R. on his coat of arms (which is an acronym for “Senate and the Roman People” – translation of “il Senato and il popoloromano”), as well as the motto Sum Vitorclanum castrum membrumque romanum, which in free translation means “Vitorchiano, castle and part of Rome.”
In other words, Rome freed them from Viterbo, but took possession of the city and its inhabitants, although the ‘business’ was not bad for the people of the city, as they became allies, not enemies. Rome also undertook to provide annually, from 1267, men of the country to the Capitoline Guard, the “Fedeli di Vitorchiano”, who were in charge of making the Capitol Guard in showy costumes and which, according to tradition, were designed by Michelangelo.
Tour in Vitorchiano: Piazzale Umberto I, Church of St John the Baptist and Statue of Marzio
Vitorchiano preserves, until today, its medieval architecture intact. It presents us with its houses, alleys, squares, exterior stairs and, above all, its walls – to the south – in the way it has always been. Most of the structures were erected around 1200, and are characterized by a set of large fourteenth-century quadrilateral towers. In the central tower is the most important entrance to the city: the Porta Romana, which dates back to the 14th century. After crossing it, you will feel in a fairy tale city, where you can explore the city and its beauty in a peaceful and pleasant way. But we’ll see in detail below.
We start our tour at Piazzale Umberto I, on the border between the new city and the old city. Here you can see its public fountain from the ‘700s, as well as the Church of St John the Baptist, from the ‘600s, which is now used for various events.
At Piazzale Umberto, you can also observe the charming Statue of Marzio. This monument is dedicated to Marzio and it is he who “welcomes” visitors. Made in peperino, of course, it was placed there in 1979 and is by the sculptor Luigi Fondi. The statue carries a legend with it: it is said that the people of Vitorchiano were aware of an imminent attack by the Etruscans on the city of Rome, and so they bothered to help their trusty allies. They then decided to send a shepherd named Marzio to the eternal city, in order to warn the Senate of the imminent arrival of the enemies, however, during the journey, the young man stepped on a thorn, although this did not stop him; he reached his destination and warned the Romans of the danger! Unfortunately, he would have died from an infection, but he avoided the attack that could have been devastating.
Tour in Vitorchiano: Porta Romana
A few steps from the statue of Marzio, we find the main entrance to the village: the Porta Romana. It is so called because it faces south, that is, towards Rome. The door is carved into a quadrilateral tower, and forms part of the old city walls. Its length is just over 250 meters.
Once there, don’t hesitate to take a walk through the medieval quarter, as this is one of the best preserved in the entire province of Viterbo. Be sure to observe all the splendor of the typical profferli, which are external staircases that lead to a balcony supported by a lowered arch. In some of them, it is also possible to see architraves with Latin inscriptions that reaffirm the city’s fidelity to Rome.
Tour in Vitorchiano: the Historic Center
The historic center is discreet and very characteristic. Via Arringa is the city’s main street, connecting Porta Romana to Piazza Roma. It’s a short and quick way to go, flanked by houses. The name of this street is due to an old tradition, the arenghi, which were public discussions among the citizens to highlight the problems of the village and, for the most part, the debates were held there.
Tour in Vitorchiano: Piazza Roma
Walking through its narrow and very interesting streets, we reach Piazza Roma, which is decorated with a 13th century fountain and made entirely of peperino (grey colored volcanic rock with black spots). The fountain is called “spindle” and was decorated with the symbols of the evangelists such as lion, calf, eagle and angel. In the square you can also see the Podestà’s house, the Renaissance church dedicated to St Anthony Abbot, and the beautiful 15th century Town Hall, one of the most important in the province of Viterbo. Here, the Guelph windows, the hall where parliamentarians meet and the clock tower, which is imposing from the top of its 16 meters, deserve to be highlighted.
From Piazza Roma, passing the “Porta Tiberina”, you can follow the zigzags of the street “Le Piagge”. They are the ones who lead us to the 14th century sanctuary dedicated to St Michael Archangel, patron saint of the city. In Vitorchiano, every May 8th, there is a procession in which the brotherhoods take part, carrying crucifixes and lanterns decorated with flowers.
Tour in Vitorchiano: Churches
The city also offers us other churches within the walls, such as the Trinity Church, which dates from the 14th century and has a splendid reliquary urn, dating from 1707. The urn is decorated with angels in golden wood, and preserves the remains of Saint Ammanzio .
In the heart of the city we find the church of St Mary, from the 13th century, which is the main church in the village. It is also constructed entirely of peperino, and features a beautiful baptismal font, a rose window and a Gothic bell tower with single, double and triple lancet windows.
Another church in Vitorchiano that deserves to be mentioned, although it is outside the walls, is the old medieval church of St Peter. The church presents itself in a majestic way with its peperino portal and bas-relief jambs with elegant figures of leaves and fantastic animals.
Tour in Vitorchiano: Ending Tour
Last but not least, you can return to where we started, at the statue of Marzio, and descend along Via Teverina, for about 500 meters, where you will have a rather unusual view: a Moai sculpture, which is, by the way, of the few existing in the world outside Easter Island, in Polynesia. The statue is impressively 6 meters high and, of course, is made of peperino. It was performed in 1990 by eleven Maoris from the Atan family, coming from the island of Rapa Nui, who wanted to promote the restoration of their works.
Before being placed where it is today, the statue had been placed in Piazza Umberto I; then it was transferred to Sardinia, for an exhibition, and finally placed – definitively, in Vitorchiano.
One suggestion: don’t forget to make a strategic stop on a panoramic terrace along the way on your right when walking along via Teverina to reach the Moai. Then tell me what you think of the view!
How to get to Vitorchiano?
Getting to the village of Vitorchiano is not difficult, the position of the village makes Vitorchiano an ideal option for a car drive from Rome.
1) How to get to Vitorchiano? BY AIRPLANE
Also read our Special Posts about Airports in Italy:
- HOW TO GET FROM FLORENCE AIRPORT TO FLORENCE CENTER?
- HOW TO GET FROM MALPENSA AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN MILANO?
- HOW TO GO FROM VENICE AIRPORT TO VENICE CENTER?
2) How to get to Vitorchiano? BY TRAIN AND BUS
First, take the train from Roma Termini Station to Orte Station (Roma Termini / Orte) and then continue by bus, taking the bus (Cotral) on the Orte-Viterbo line and then Viterbo (Riello / P.zza Giordano Bruno) – Vitorchiano the stop is directly at Piazza Umberto I (the historic center of Vitorchiano) For more details click here!
As you can see, the best way is with a car or private driver, if you want to combine this tour in a day trip from Rome with another beautiful village like Civita di Bagnoreggio or Calcata, ask me for a quote here!
3) How to get to Vitorchiano? BY CAR
From Rome to a village of Vitorchino by car, it is approximately 96.9 km, you can make a trip back and forth “touristing” the whole day in the village.
If you are going to rent a car, be sure to read our posts in the Driving in Italy section of the Traveling to Italy blog. In addition to car itinerary tips, we have everything about signs, tolls, roads and many more tips.
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Important to know
- If you are driving in Italy, you need the International Driving Permit (if you’re not European Citizen).
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Let’s visit Vitorchiano, in the province of Viterbo, in Lazio? Some small towns are often underestimated by tourists, but it is in these cities that we find true gems of beauty, history, culture, architecture and magnificent panoramas! Want to discover a little-known city in the province of Viterbo? Come to Vitorchiano!
And if you feel insecure or have no time, and need help to organize your trip , do not hesitate to look for me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy. And how can I do that? Continue reading this post until the end and you will understand how can we make your life and journey easier.
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