I had my first class – Introduction to Italian – and come to find out Italian is difficult to learn. About three hundred years ago I studied Spanish. This has both hurt and helped with the Italian. I understand the logic of the language but keep breaking into Spanish. I’ll get it eventually. Fortunately the residents of Viterbo – and throughout Italy– are extremely warm, nice, and patient.
Our guests arranged a tour of Viterbo yesterday. Our guide Emma (wish I remembered her full name) was a wealth of knowledge and information. I stuck close by so I could hear everything…..and I was afraid of getting lost. Emma stated that Viterbo is known as the City of Popes. Apparently the Pope, or should I say Popes, lived in Viterbo during times of unrest in Rome. Why Viterbo? Funny you should ask. OK, you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. Two reasons. First, it had – and still has – a wall around the city, so it was safe. Second, the water. Viterbo has fresh water coming in, and during that time day water was gold. It’s gold now, but not everyone realizes it. There are beautiful fountains all around the medieval city. To protect the water quality, it was forbidden to do anything but gather water for drinking – no livestock or pet drinking, no washing, no dumping, nothing. The priority was to protect water quality. I knew the U.S. water use and allocation doctrines have their foundation from the days of the Roman Empire, but did not realize that water quality protection was always a priority. Wish we could take a lesson from the distant past and learn. Shameless plug – take my water policy class if you want to learn what I’m refereeing to. Back to the Popes. Several lived here and are buried here. Including one in the cathedral. This particular Pope held the position for only a few months. He was a scientist and doctor and his claim to “fame” was a book he wrote and distributed for free to the poor. The book outlined the illnesses from the era and how to manage and cure them. How did he die? Apparently he was working on an experiment and it blew up. The two people who read this blog will notice the picture of the cathedral and the pock marks in the columns. These are the result of aerial bombings during World War 2. The Cathedral was badly damaged, but the residents decided to keep some reminders of the war. Lions are the —- for the lack of a better word – mascot of the city. Thus you can find numerous carvings of lions.
Quick summary – Viterbo is a maze of small, beautiful streets, with countless shops, restaurants, cafes, and gelatorias. I will need to investigate more.