Enclosed within 12th century grey stone walls, Viterbo is known as “the city of beautiful fountains and beautiful women”. Although still not on the radar of mass tourism, it is quickly becoming a preferred excursion for cruise passengers disembarking at nearby Civitavecchia… especially those looking for tourist-free days in a country setting.
And the first thing that greets visitors as they enter Viterbo is the Fontana Grande, built in the first decades of the 1200s. Fast-forward eight centuries, and a replica of Fontana Grande in 1:2 scale was created from similar peperino stone for an exhibition in 1911 by local stone cutter Alfredo Maggini, nicknamed “Scalpello”, and then set aside at the end of the exhibition.
Fast forward some more to the Fascist period when the Greek island of Rhodes was part of the Italian empire and numerous artisans, masons and craftsmen from the Viterbo area were deployed there to restore the Knights’ castle and other buildings in Rhodes Old Town. Sure enough, Maggini’s replica fountain was shipped there and set up in the ancient Mandraki port, where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. This was deemed the perfect spot for the fountain perhaps because the Orthodox church behind it resembles the Sanctuary of La Quercia, another site in Viterbo.
For this and other interesting facts, Etruria expert (and ItalianNotebook contributor, of today’s and other Notes!) Mary Jane Cryan will be giving an illustrated lecture “La Tuscia.. in Viaggio” in Italian on June 8th at the Library of Vetralla (Via Pistella/ Pza. Marconi ) at 5 p.m. Much of the material is drawn from her most recently published book “Etruria-travel, History and Itineraries in Central Italy“.
All are welcome, where you can then also enjoy Vetralla’s Cene in Cantina festival that begins that same evening.