We always urge travelers to visit locations that are not exploited by over tourism, and to focus on lesser commercialized towns that are off the beaten path and often more rewarding.
Viterbo, a few miles from the Umbrian border and just an hour north of Rome, is a city we often guide our travelers to. Built largely of grey volcanic piperino, Viterbo offers a remarkable glimpse into 13th century life.
The town’s medieval walls are superb, some of the best preserved in Italy, and the towers are tall and dramatic.
Viterbo’s San Pellegrino district is a place to get the feel of the Middle Ages, seeing how daily life is carried on in an architectural setting that is remarkably unchanged over the centuries. We found ourselves alone here last weekend, during the period when towns in Tuscany of comparable interest are over-run. With no one around us, we wandered from one atmospheric square to the next, each one of a different shape and size, and each with a church, a fountain and one important palace.
Viterbo is famed for its superb water (which emerges from its oh-so-many fountains.)
How many can their be ? Our children lost count at 23, and all were from the 13-18th centuries.
We tried the water at all of them.
That water may in part have contributed to the quality of the best bucatini al amatriciana Robert says he has encountered, this at a restaurant (ask us for details) with an unusually interesting wine list with surprisingly low prices.
One of the most beautiful palaces in all of Italy — the Palazzo dei Papi — is here.
But except for ourselves, no one else was.