Viterbo is one of the few medieval cities that preserves its walls intact. Built in peperino, a typical local stone of volcanic origin, the entire circle (over 4 km) is the result of two centuries (11th-12th century) of development.
Coming from the north along the Cassia road, the first place you recognize is Porta Fiorentina, filmed in a famous sequence of Luigi Zampa's Il vigile (1960). Characterized by five symmetrical arches, it was built in 1768 in place of the ancient Porta S. Lucia.
Like the medieval walls, the fountains - built in almost every square - are a feature of the city. One of the most popular fountains, thanks to the opening scene of Fellini's I Vitelloni (1953), is in Piazza delle Erbe. Known as the Fountain of the Lions, it was built in 1621 on a design by Filippo Caparozzi.
Viterbo also boasts the largest and best preserved medieval historic center in Europe, which comprises two adjacent quarters: Pianoscarano and San Pellegrino. To explore them, start from Piazza San Lorenzo: here you can visit the Duomo and the famous Palazzo dei Papi, where the first and longest conclave in history took place.
Orson Welles partially shot Othello (1951) - the movie inspired by the Shakespearean drama of the same name - in Viterbo. The magnificent facade of the Palazzo dei Papi is recognizable in an important sequence: the one in which - thanks to a pioneering special effect - we see a vessel sailing alone in the sea, behind the arches of the adjacent Loggia delle Benedizioni.
Written by Franco Grattarola