Viterbo is called “La Città dei Papi” (The city of Popes), in memory of the period in which the papal
seat was moved to this city. It in fact still bears the signs of that splendor, even if the city has even
more ancient origins.
La Città dei Papi, an ancient Etruscan capital full of great historical traditions, preserves some of
the most important monumental structures in Lazio: aristocratic palaces, monuments full of the
most interesting artworks, evocative medieval quarters, churches and cloisters from different
periods, slender towers and elegant fountains made of tuff stone (the typical stone used in
The historical nucleus began to develop around the year 1000 d.c. nearby the ancient Castrum
Viterbii situated on the top of the Colle del Duomo. It is surrounded by high crenellated medieval
walls and massive towers with access from 8 doors, which are still intact today.
Viterbo is a very touristic city, especially thanks to its exceptional thermal resources and the
famous “Macchina di Santa Rosa”.
The transport of the Macchina di Santa Rosa takes place every year, on the 3 of September, at
9 o’clock in the evening. The Macchina is an artistic illuminated bell-tower with an imposing height
of 30 m. It weighs between 3.5 and 5 tons and it is made of iron, wood and papier-mâché. At the
top of the tower, the statue of the patron saint is enthusiastically acclaimed by the people in the
streets. For the occasion, the city lights are turned off to make the Macchina more suggestive. One
hundred men from Viterbo (known as the Facchini) carry the Macchina through each of the major
streets of Viterbo and stop to have it blessed in all the seven major churches of city. They start
from Porta Romana, concluding with a strenuous ascension up to the Piazza di Santa Rosa, its
final resting place. Each Macchina’s lifespan differs, but contests for a new design are held every
few years.