Viterbo - a gem of Lazio
I was going to Lazio and only using Rome as a transit point. That left masses of choice for a short time.
The main things in mind were to return to Tivoli, where my first visit had been too short to allow me to do much, and to see some 'Etruscan towns.' That left a bit of time to be divided between Viterbo, Ostia Antica and the towns of south and west Lazio. In the end I decided that Viterbo and Ostia Antica would fit in best.
So what had I read about Viterbo and how did it impinge on my choice. I had read four things:
1. It was the best centre for getting to the Etruscan remains;
2. It was on the grey and gloomy side;
3. It had the best medieval street architecture in Italy;
4. It was good for getting to some good stately houses and their gardens.
4 was irrelevant, because I decided against using my limited time in that way.
1 and 3 were plus points that outweighed 2, which was clarly a minus.
It can easily be deduced why I have no comment on 4 above - though I suspect it may be true.
Heaven knows who pur 1 above into at least two guidebooks but it has to be wrong. One of the books concerned [whose advice I followed] said that Tarquinia and Cerveteri were the best places to go for Etruscan remains. Unless you have a car, Cerveteri is only marginally more accseeible than Karachi and even with a car Viterbo would seem a bizarre point of approach. Tarquiia is a bit more credible because there are a few direct buses - but most mean a change at Tuscania.
3 is a bit dubious - since it probably meant town architecture, it may have been correct in that - but I rate Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo, a village, for its medieval architecture above anywhere else I have seen. However the street architecture of the San Peligrino area of Viterbo is very well worth seeing.
2 is, I suppose. a matter of opinion. I can only say that in my opinion it is pretty ridiculous! I found Viterbo a place worth visiting in its own right in any respect.
Why on earth not. The cathedral and the Palace of the Popes are to be found in one square, some superb medieval architecture in another and plenty of interesting old churches.
If that sort of thing appeals, throw in a couple of papal tombs and there's always the idea of a bus ride to those gardens.
Within the city, everything is easily within walking distance and the city walls themselves are appealing.