Duane McLaughlin

Viterbo: Medieval Day Trip from Rome

Immerse yourself in the medieval charm of Viterbo, an evocative day trip destination from Rome.

Day Trip
Medieval charm of Viterbo


Viterbo is an ideal spot for a day trip from Rome. It’s in easy reach of the Italian capital, being just 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. So once you’ve perhaps had enough of the hustle and bustle of Rome, Viterbo makes for the perfect antidote. This city and its medieval streets and architecture is packed with local charm. And the best part? Despite all the history and picturesque streetscapes that you’ll find in Viterbo, Italy you won’t find it too crowded at all.

Viterbo is the principal city of the historical Tuscia region, named after the ancient Etruscan civilization. It dates back to the 8th century AD, when it was a fortified town under the Lombard king, Desiderius. It became a free commune in 1095, and a papal residence in the 13th century. It boasts many monuments and attractions, such as the Palazzo dei Papi, the Duomo, the Quartiere San Pellegrino, and the Terme dei Papi.

Getting There

By Public Transport

The easiest way to get to Viterbo from Rome by public transport is by train. There are two types of trains: regional trains (R) and regional fast trains (RV). The regional trains take about two hours and stop at many stations along the way. The regional fast trains take about one hour and 20 minutes and stop at fewer stations. Both types of trains depart from Roma Ostiense station and arrive at Viterbo Porta Romana station, which is close to the historic center of Viterbo. The ticket price is around 5 euros one way.

You can also take a bus from Rome to Viterbo, but it is less convenient than the train. The bus company is called Cotral, and it departs from Saxa Rubra station, which is connected to Rome by metro line A. The bus takes about two hours and 15 minutes and arrives at Viterbo Largo Falcone e Borsellino station, which is about 2 kilometers from the historic center. The ticket price is around 4 euros one way.

By Car

If you prefer to drive to Viterbo from Rome, you have several options for routes. The shortest and fastest route is via SS2bis and SS2, which takes about one hour and 15 minutes without traffic. The distance is about 84 kilometers (52 miles). Another option is via E45 and E35, which takes about one hour and 25 minutes without traffic. The distance is about 126 kilometers (78 miles). A third option is via E80 and SS675, which takes about one hour and 40 minutes without traffic. The distance is about 136 kilometers (85 miles).

Parking in Viterbo can be tricky, especially in the historic center, where there are many restricted areas for residents only. You can park your car in one of the public parking lots outside the city walls, such as Piazza Martiri d'Ungheria or Piazza della Rocca, and then walk or take a bus to the center. Alternatively, you can park your car in one of the private garages in the center, such as Garage San Lorenzo or Garage San Faustino, but they are more expensive.

Top Attractions at Viterbo

Basilica of Santa Maria della Quercia

The Basilica of Santa Maria della Quercia is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and art. It was built in the 15th century to house a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary that was found on an oak tree. The basilica features a majestic dome, a richly decorated facade, and a splendid interior with frescoes by Lorenzo Lotto and Sodoma.

Visitor tips:

Sacro Bosco Park

Sacro Bosco Park, also known as the Park of the Monsters, is a unique and whimsical garden that was created in the 16th century by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini. The park is filled with bizarre and fascinating sculptures of mythical creatures, animals, and human figures, such as a giant turtle, an elephant, a dragon, and an ogre. The park is also a natural oasis with ancient trees, streams, and waterfalls.

Visitor tips:

More Attractions

Other sights worth visiting in Viterbo are:

Activities and Experiences

Thermal Baths

Viterbo is famous for its thermal springs, which have been used since ancient times for their healing properties. There are several spas and wellness centers in the area, where you can enjoy relaxing treatments and massages. Some of the most popular ones are:

Cooking Class

If you want to learn more about the culinary traditions of Viterbo and Latium, you can join a cooking class with a local chef. You will discover the secrets of making typical dishes such as acquacotta (a vegetable soup), gnocchi alla romana (semolina dumplings), coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), and torta di ricotta (cheese cake). You will also enjoy a delicious meal with wine at the end of the class.

Lesser Known Stories and Interesting Facts about Viterbo

Viterbo has a rich and fascinating history that hides many curious anecdotes and legends. Here are some of them: