Sutri (province of Viterbo)

Sutri is a small town in the province of Viterbo, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Rome and 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of Viterbo.

Sutri travel guide

Sutri lies on a stretch of higher ground along the Via Cassia.

There are various traces of the city’s Etruscan and Roman past. It was a rather important city because of its strategic position.

An amphitheater and an Etruscan necropolis with several tombs have been dug into the tufo hillside and an Etruscan wall has been incorporated into a medieval one.

The church of the Madonna del Parto has an mithraeum inside and there is also a Roman Cathedral.

The amphitheater is thought to date back to the 1st century B.C. and has been completely dug into the tuff ( a kind of volcanic rock) that characterizes the area.

The cathedral was built on top of a Christian basilica and was consecrated in 1207 by Pope Innocent III. The main reasons for visiting are the cosmatesque floor, the 13th century table, the Lombard crypt and a wooden statue of the Santa Dolcissima attributed to a pupil of Bernini.

The Porta Franceta is also known as the Porta Vecchia and was built around the 14th century. The materials used are tuff, travertino marble and peperino (another kind of volcanic rock).

The Villa Staderini was constructed by the Roman marquesses Muti-Papazzurri. Its 18th century garden contains numerous archeological finds.

The church of the Madonna del Monte was built in 1725, but the fresco of the Madonna with Child inside was painted in the 14th century.

The Castle of Charlemagne is named thus because the emperor is supposed to have lodged there. In reality this castle was not built until the 13th century.

The church of the Madonna del Parto has been dug into the tuff has both been thought to be an Etruscan tomb and a Christian mithraeum. The original 3 nave structure is still intact and there are some interesting wall-paintings relating the legend of the Santuario di S. Michele nel Gargano.

At 1 km south of Sutri there is a Roman necropolis, also dug into the tuff soil, containing 64 Roman tombs.

The church of the Madonna del Templio is located in the area where there used to be hospitals and churches for the pilgrims traveling to Rome. This church used to belong to the Order of the Templars. On January 17 the feast of Saint Antonio Abate, protector of animals, is celebrated here.

The second week of September the Sagra del Faggiolo (Feast of the Bean) takes place, together with a Handicraft fair.

September 16 is the birthday of the patron saint Santa Dolcissima. This is celebrated with a religious parade with an image of the saint. There are fireworks and and a torch show at the amphitheater.

Orlando‘s Cave is an Etruscan cave. It is located outside the city borders and is thought to be the birthplace of Orlando, paladin of France.

Dante‘s House can be found in the old town and is the modest dwelling where Dante Alighieri stayed on his way to Rome in occasion of the 1300 Jubilee.

The history of Sutri probably goes back to the Bronze Age. The city was most likely founded by a seafaring people called the Pelasgi. In the Etruscan age Sutri became an important agricultural and commercial center.

Another legend claims that Sutri was founded by Saturn. The coat of arms of the city shows the God on horseback holding 3 ears of corn.

In 383 BC Sutri was conquered by the Romans and in the following years became a bulwark against various Barbarian hordes traveling down the Via Cassia on their way to Rome.

In 728, after Sutri had been involved in the fight between the Lombards and the Byzantines, the King of the Lumbards gifted the city to Pope Gregory II.

In the 9th century├é  Charlemagne‘s sister Berta was exiled after having had a relationship with a person of low origins. On the way to Rome she stopped and in a cave near Sutri gave birth to Rolando, who was later to become a paladin of France.

Like most cities in the area in the Middle Ages Sutri became involved in the dispute between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines and in 1433 the city was destroyed in a fire and after that rapidly lost its importance.

The Via Cassia Cimina and the city of Ronciglione, under the influence of the Farnese family, took over as the most important commercial route and Sutri became an important town, often used as merchandise between important families.

At the end of the 18th century Sutri was conquered by the French and became part of Rociglione.

The city has been a diocese since the 5th century and was even briefly, between 1243 and 1244, the Papal Seat, after Pope Innocent IV had had to flee from the Emperor Federico II, whom he had excommunicated.

In 1435, after the city’s decline, it was united with Nepi.

The future Pope Pius V, later elevated to sainthood, was Sutri’s bishop in 1556. The cathedral of the city contains many mementos and works of art dedicated to him.

Around Sutri there are numerous├é  ruins testifying to the fact that the area was continuously inhabited in the course of the centuries.

At the top of the hill the Villa Savorelli can be found.

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