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Viterbo and surroundings:
discover the location and its beauties


Viterbo is an ancient city of the Lazio region, rich of history and monuments of the Middle Age, traditions and events.

Best Western Hotel Viterbo will accompany you at the discovery of the beauties of Viterbo and the Tuscia region suggesting historic points of interest to visit, describing the surroundings of the city, telling the gastronomic local traditions and events.

Your vacation to Viterbo is waiting for you: book now your stay!


What to see in Viterbo?

The Palazzo dei Papi with its magnificent loggia is the epitome of Gothic style, which was spread in the Lazio region in the 13th century by Cistercian monks. Built in Piazza San Lorenzo, between 1255 and 1266, a period during which the popes made the city their permanent home, it has elements associated with both monastic and defensive construction that they built one of the city’s most striking and admired architectural landscapes.

Currently the Palazzo’s premises are used by the Curia and home to the Diocesan Archive, the Chapterhouse Library and the Cathedral Museum, whose visit also allows access to the Loggia and the Chamber of the Conclave.

It is one of the city’s oldest quarters that has best preserved its thirteenth century medieval aspect with narrow streets that open onto small squares surrounded by buildings, towers, porticoes with round arches and “profferli” ‒ outside staircases ‒ that reach flowered balconies.

The quarter’s centerpiece is Piazza San Pellegrino, where the eponymous church, from the Romanesque period, is located with few fragments of frescoes inside.

Palazzo degli Alessandri overlooks Piazza San Pellegrinoa and it was built in 13th century. The three-store building has a large balcony, a striking lowered arch and exhibits a variation of the typical Viterbese “profferlo” which, instead of being created on the outside, is built inside the building’s perimeter wall. The staircase is decorated with a star pattern repeated on the shelving above it.

On the opposite side of Palazzo degli Alessandri there is the Scaciaricci tower, a house with four floors and a tower.

The spa’s renovation and expansion, carried out over the years by various popes, is the reason why the springs are called “Terme dei Papi”. In fact, Popes such as Gregory IX and Boniface IX went to Viterbo for its thermal waters.

The heart of the spa are the springs of Bullicame (65°C); the spring feeds a huge pool of more than 2000 m²; treatments specifically concern the respiratory and osteoarticular systems, and also skin diseases, kidney stones, digestive system diseases and so on. Qualified specialists and staff of Viterbo’s University are part of the team that carry out therapies and treatments.

The Tuscia Opera Festival is a perfect opportunity to enjoy opera, ballet and to visit the medieval villages.

You can listen to a multitude of artists in the beautiful Piazza del Palazzo Papale, where the first conclave was held in 1261.

Saint Rose was born in 1233 in the vicinity of this monastery and the legend says that in just ten years she helped organize the popular resistance against the imperial army of Frederick II; she was exiled from the city and died young in 1251. When seven years later her mummified body was found, they decided to transfer it to the monastery, which was named after her. Currently the saint’s body is preserved in the church dedicated to Her in a precious metal urn masterpiece by the goldsmith G. Giardini (1699).

Every year, on the evening of September 3rd, a commemoration is held involving the entire city and it includes the transport of a structure – “The Car of St. Rose” - about 30 m high and weighing more than 5 tonnes, which is carried on the shoulders of 100 volunteers along a path through Viterbo and that ends at the Church of St. Rose.

Two key ingredients are essential for Viterbo gastronomy: simplicity and authenticity.

  • Pasta
    For those who prefer a richer cuisine, try the classic fettuccine (homemade pasta), lombrichelli (spaghetti made with flour and water), which change name depending on the area: cavatelli, bighi, culitonni, brigoli and piciarelli; and the traditional and unbeatable “fieno” of Canepina (very thin and light pasta).
  • Meat
    Among the noteworthy meat dishes is the Roman lamb dish, roasted, baked or “chasseur” (stewed in tomato, wine and herb sauce) and the variety of fried brain, liver, artichokes and mushrooms.
  • Fish
    The fish, from the coast or lake, is cooked in all its variations, including the traditional “fish soup”.
  • Vegetables
    Vegetables are a very popular dish. Do not forget stewed beans with pork rind and fresh chicory flavored with garlic and anchovies. The health-conscious will appreciate the “minestre” (soups) with all kinds of vegetables.
  • Cheeses
    Among the simple but tasty cheeses produced, there are pecorino (made from sheep’s milk), caciotta, ricotta and mozzarella.
  • Wines and Desserts
    Viticulture is widespread throughout the region due to the favorable climatic conditions; both red and white dry wines are produced (Est! Est!! Est! Colli Etruschi, Colli Cimini, Valle del Tevere), as well as dessert wines (Cannaiola di Marta, Aleatico di Gradoli) a great complement for traditional desserts prepared with hazelnuts and chestnuts from the Cimini Hills.


And in the surroundings?

The small medieval village of Civita di Bagnoregio (443 m above sea level) rises above a tufa spur and is currently only accessible by a scenic bridge. From the village you can enjoy magnificent views of the valley below where the cliff, exposed to the erosive action of weathering, takes on the typical shapes of gullies (basins bordered by ridges and pinnacles).

The main monuments to visit are: the Porta Santa Maria (St Mary's Gate) of Etruscan origin, the church of San Donato with precious historical and religious relics like the relic of St. Victoria and the Grotto of St. Bonaventure.

The Sacred Grove of Bomarzo was created between 1552 and 1580 by order of Prince Vicino Orsini, a relative of one of the most powerful families of the time, the Farnese.

The idea was to create a majestic park on the slopes of a natural amphitheater with fountains and large peperine (granite-like rock) sculptures, carried out by using the boulders that were already on site. The park displays the typical style of the spirit and cultural climate of the time, all aimed at the exaltation of scenic effects designed to “inspire wonder”.

The park, abandoned and forgotten for centuries, was rediscovered and restored by the new owner Giovanni Bettini from 1953; the work of numerous artists contributed to its appreciation by the general public, first among everyone the brilliant exponent of surrealism Salvador Dali (see the work “The Temptation of St. Anthony” from 1946 indeed inspired by the Sacred Grove).

The city of Bolsena, about 30 km from Viterbo, is located on the northern shore of Lake Bolsena, formed over 300,000 years ago following the calderic collapse of some volcanoes belonging to the Volsini mountains.

On the evening of July 23, the Sacred representation of the Mysteries of Santa Cristina takes place: some living paintings, called Mysteries, are set up to commemorate the suffering of the holy child and the procession with the statue stops in front of each representation, walking the road from the Basilica to the Church of the Holy Savior. The costumes and the preparation are particularly accurate, and the subdivisions of the roles follow a centuries-old tradition. The next morning the procession starts from the Church of the Santissimo Salvatore until it returns to Santa Cristina, stopping in front of new set-ups. The famous procession was celebrated, for the first time, in 1811 at the behest of the Franciscan friar Francesco dei conti Cozza.

The Christian tradition also recalls the Eucharistic miracle, which took place in Bolsena in 1263 which gave rise to the Corpus Domini. A priest of Bohemian origin, during the celebration of the Eucharist on the tomb of Santa Cristina, would have had doubts about transubstantiation and, suddenly, the blood that flowed from the consecrated Host bathed the corporal and the liturgical linens. In 1264 Pope Urban IV promulgated the Bolla Transiturus which established the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Vulci, an ancient Etruscan city now part of the territory of Montalto di Castro in the Lazio Maremma, is located on a limestone platform along the right bank of the Fiora.

It was one of the largest city-states of Etruria, with a strong maritime and commercial development with Greece and the East, as evidenced by the sumptuous funerary objects found in the adjacent necropolis, now scattered in museums around the world.

In the necropolis surrounding the city, located in the localities of Cavalupo, Ponte Rotto, Polledrara, Osteria, Campo di Maggio and Camposcala, there are thousands of tombs of different shapes and types: ditches, tumuli, caisson tombs, chamber tombs and tombs to corridor. Among the best known: the magnificent Cuccumella mound (18 meters high and 75 meters in diameter), the Cuccumelletta and the Rotonda, the François tomb, those of the Tori, of the Inscriptions and of the Two Entrances.

Among the most evocative monuments there is also the majestic bridge called del Diavolo (III century BC) which with its 30 meters high dominates the Fiora river, near the medieval castle of Abbadia (XIII century).

Tuscania, a town about 24 km away from Viterbo, like many neighboring towns and as is typical of this area of the Viterbo area, rises on some (in this case, seven) tufaceous rock headlands placed between the Marta and Capecchio rivers that dominate the Marta valley, an important communication and transhumance route that connected Lake Bolsena with the Tyrrhenian Sea, near present-day Tarquinia, since prehistoric times.

Caprarola, despite being immersed in the ancient Etruscan territory, has its roots in a much more recent era: we have the first news of the existence of stable settlements around the XI century. During the Middle Ages it was disputed by several feudal families, but it was in the sixteenth century that it experienced its greatest splendor when the Farnese family, with the appointment of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese to Pope Paul III, and with the establishment of the Duchy of Castro, considerably extended their domain by building sumptuous villas and castles.

In Caprarola the Palazzo Farnese di Caprarola was built which initially was to be a fortified residence following the project to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. The work started in 1530 was suspended several times and resumed in 1559 by Vignola who radically modified the original project: the construction, while maintaining the pentagonal plan of the original fortification, was transformed into an imposing Renaissance palace. In place of the corner bastions, the architect inserted large terraces open onto the countryside, while a circular two-story courtyard was built in the center of the residence. Vignola had the hill cut with staircases in order to isolate the building but integrate it harmoniously with the surrounding territory. In addition, a straight road was opened in the center of the village below to visually connect the building to the town and enhance its dominant position. Attached to the villa are the "Farnese Gardens", a splendid example of a late-Renaissance garden, built through a system of terraces behind the villa, perched on the hill from which the building rises and connected to the residence by bridges.

Le Querce Golf Club is in the Lazio countryside 40 kilometres from Rome. The course was designed and built by American architects George and Jim Fazio along with David Mezzacane. It was included in the Peugeot Golf Guide 2006-2007 among the top ten Italian courses.

The course, consisting of 18 holes plus 3 more training ones and an organized practice-field, purposely built by then President of the Italian Golf Federation, Giuseppe Silva , was opened in 1990 and immediately esteemed for the way the ground, on which it stands, was used, regarding the natural use of a horseshoe-shaped ditch that crosses it and that becomes a natural obstacle.