Vetralla is a medium-sized town in the province of Viterbo. The municipality is located between two rivers and can be easily reached from Rome as well as from Viterbo and from the coast. Around the town there is a lot of natural beauty, with some ancient forests where the famous funghi porcini grow.
Vetralla City Guide
The address of the town hall is Piazza Umberto I, 1 – 01019 Vetralla (tel. +39 076146691). The ZIP code is 01019 and the area code is 0761. The city has the following suburbs: Cinelli, Cura di Vetralla, Giardino, La Botte, Le Dogane, Le Valli, Madonna del Ponte, Mazzacotto, Mazzocchio Alto, Mazzocchio Basso, Pietrara and Tre Croci.
By car/public transport
From Viterbo by car: Take the SR2 in southern direction.
From Rome by car: Follow SR2 in a northerly direction.
Public transportation from Viterbo: Take the FR3 train to Rome. There are two stops in the city, namely Cura di Vetralla and Tre Croci.
Public transportation from Rome: Take the FR3 train to Viterbo from Ostiense station.
A brief history of Vetralla
As with most towns in the region, the history of Vetralla begins in Etruscan times. After this the Romans took over and during the Middle Ages the town was owned by a succession of feudal lords.
The first permanent inhabitants of the Vetralla area were the Etruscans, who were expelled by the Romans in the 4th century BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Barbarians took control of the area.
During the height of the Etruscan era, today’s Vetralla was one of many small settlements in the area. At the boroughs of Grotta Porcina, Monte Panese and Valle Cajana, remains from this era have been discovered.
Tombs dating back to the Etruscan period have been found near the villages of Cerracchio and Poggio Montano. These date back to the earliest history of the Etruscans, called the Villanovan period (9th to 7th centuries BC).
Middle ages and after
In the Middle Ages the town was owned by a succession of feudal lords. Successively, the Orsini, the Di Vico, the Anguillara and the Farnese families owned Vetralla and its immediate surroundings.
Of the domination of the Di Vico family, the sarcophagus of the son of Giacomo Di Vico, preserved in the San Francesco Church, and the castle where Giacomo himself was held prisoner with his three children before being transferred to the castle of Soriano nel Cimino, where he would eventually be beheaded, are the reminders.
n 1206 Pope Innocent III donated a large piece of wooded land to the town. However, this was disputed by Viterbo. To put an end to this struggle, a ceremony was organized in which the mayor of Vetralla married a tree in the woods of Monte Fogliano.
During the Roman period Vetralla was not considered an important settlement. Part of its population moved to the nearby Forum Cassii. Between the 5th and 7th centuries, however, a reversal, initiating the growth of what would become today’s Vetralla and what was then a castle defending the Valle di Sant’Antonio.
Thanks to its strategic location on the Via Cassia, Vetralla was often attacked and in the 12th century the city was destroyed by the Viterbese troops.
After its reconstruction, the Second Crusade was proclaimed in Vetralla by Pope Eugenio III in 1145.
Under Pope Innocent III (late 12th-early 13th century) Vetralla became part of the so-called Patrimonio di San Pietro, a province under the authority of a regent appointed by the pope.
After this the Orsini took control of the town and from 1345 it was the turn of the Di Vico, who were in turn expelled a century later by Cardinal Vitelleschi. After having been in the hands of the Anguillara for a while, Vetralla returned into ecclesiastical possession.
In 1783 Vetralla was granted city rights by Pope Pius VI.
During French rule, it became the capital of the Cantone dei Cimini.
In the 19th century, the region was successively held by the Austrians, the Russians and the Neapolitans, before playing a role in the Italian Risorgimento.
What to see and do
Vetralla is located both along the ancient Roman Via Cassia consular road and the Via Francigena pilgrimage route. Therefore, there are remains dating back to Etruscan and Roman times as well as to the medieval and Renaissance periods.
The most important churches are the Sant’Andrea Cathedral and the Madonna del Carmine Church. The latter is also known as Santi Filippo and Giacomo Church. The San Francesco Church dates back to the 12th century and is graced by a 7th century crypt and a number of frescoes.
The main civic building is the Palazzo Comunale.
Attractions outside the center include the Sant’Angelo Monastery on Monte Fogliano, and a number of ruins near the borough of Cura. There are also several archaeological sites around the city, including Grotta Porcina, Cerracchio and Forcassi, among others.
Events and Festivals
Every year in September the festival of funghi porcini takes place.
Fiori alla Finestra e Cene in Cantina (“Flowers in the Window and Meals in the Cellars”) is an event where residents of the historic center decorate their windows with flowers and traditional cantinas serve local culinary specialties.