Just one hour north of Rome, near Lago di Bolsena, the well-preserved medieval town of Viterbo now has one more reason to attract visitors, especially those fascinated by Dante and his Divine Comedy.
On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death, which is celebrated this year, Viterbo has inaugurated a new walking itinerary retracing some of the places and figures mentioned in the Divine Comedy that are related to Viterbo.
Nine signposts scattered around the city center positioned where the points of interest are include images and descriptions translated into four languages, as well as a QR code to read additional information on your smartphone.
Viterbo is best known for having been the seat of the papacy for two decades during the 13th century - in fact, in Italian it is known as ‘la città dei papi’. Indeed, Dante mentions five popes in his Comedy who either lived or were buried in Viterbo.
Viterbo's historic center is one of the best preserved in central Italy. Many of the older buildings (particularly churches) are built on top of ancient ruins. Palazzo dei Papi is one of the city’s main attractions, having been the papacy seat; it also served as a country residence or refuge in time of trouble in Rome.
To the west of Viterbo are a number of springs celebrated for the healing qualities of their waters, in use since Etruscan and Roman times. Among the most famous are the thermal springs known as the ‘Bulicame,’ or bubbling place, whose reputation had even reached the ears of exiled Dante. He described them in Canto 14 of the Inferno.