Stories and Secrets of Viterbo
Piazza San Lorenzo
Continue into Piazza San Lorenzo
As you walk, notice the huge stone blocks on both sides of the street.
These are remains of the first settlement on the hill. Perhaps a temple dedicated to Hercules from the Etruscan period, which was from 800 BC to 400 BC. The hill was easily defended and always considered a sacred place.
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Stop for a moment once you're in the Piazza San Lorenzo.
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The wide piazza is flanked to the right by the magnificent Papal Palace with its airy Benediction Loggia.
Ahead of you is the Duomo, or Cathedral, with its striped bell tower.
And to your left is the Pagnotta house. There you'll find a well stocked souvenir and bookshop.
A newly installed lift is located in the far right hand corner. This is used to transport visitors from the piazza down to the Faul valley and its free parking area.
Now turn to have a closer look at the Papal Palace and Loggia.
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The loggia was built in 1267 by Captain of the People, Andrea di Berardo Gatti. It was created to beautify and soften the building’s strong military character. There was once an identical façade on the northern side towards the Faul valley, but it collapsed in 1325 during an earthquake.
The Papal Palace was the residence of five popes. It was also where the first Papal Conclave was held. This lasted almost 2 years from 1268 to 1271. The cardinals were locked inside the palace "cum clave", thus the origin of the word conclave. Their food was rationed and finally the roof removed to help speed up the election of a new pope.
If you like, you can pause the tour to visit the Papal Palace, the Duomo and the Museo del Colle. I highly recommend doing so. To resume the tour or if you prefer to keep moving now, just head back over the bridge and towards Piazza della Morte.
You'll soon be making your way into the Medieval Quarter of San Pellegrino.