Viterbo is a comune (township) in the Lazio region of central Italy, and the capital of Viterbo province, 42°25 12°06E, at 326 m (1070 ft) above sea-level. It is approximately 100 kilometers (60 mi) north of Rome.
It was once presumed to have been founded by Etruscans, but the source of this belief, still not eradicated from the popular mind, was the work of one of its more colorful natives, a medieval forger named Annio .
Its main claim to fame is as "the town of the Popes": the Popes had a country residence there, which may still be seen; and it thus became the site of important church councils , and in particular of the first conclave. Its beautiful historical center was conceived in the Middle Ages and preserves the essential style of the medieval architecture of central Italy, with many "palazzi".
The town hosts the Italian gold reserves, an important Academy of Fine Arts, the University of Tuscia and a wide thermal area.
The "Macchina di Santa Rosa"
The transport of the Macchina di S. Rosa takes place every year, on September 3, at 9 o'clock in the evening. The Macchina is an artistic illuminated bell-tower with an imposing height of 30 m. It weighs between 3.5 and 5 tonnes and is made of iron, wood and papier-mâché. At the top of the tower, the statue of the Patron Saint is enthusiastically acclaimed by the people in the streets of the town centre, where lights are turned off for the occasion. One hundred Viterbesi men (known as the Facchini) carry the Macchina from Porta Romana through the major streets of Viterbo, concluding with a strenuous ascension up to the Piazza di Santa Rosa, its final resting place. Each Macchina has a life span of five years, after which a new one is built.