Via Francigena: Viterbo to Vetralla

Palazzo dei Papi, Viterbo

We woke up to clear blue skies and following the delicious breakfast in the Il Gallo Nero (as mentioned) we set off in high spirits towards the Palazzo dei Papi to begin today’s walk.

Walking towards the Palazzo dei Papi
Cathedral San Lorenzo by day

We began at the Cathedral San Lorenzo and followed the Via Francigena signs to find our route out of Viterbo.

Etruscan Via Cava

We soon came to the first wow factor of today’s walk (or second if you count Viterbo old town) which was the Etruscan Via Cava or excavated road. This canyon-like narrow road was dug out by the Etruscan civilisation probably around 2,000 years ago.

Spectacular 15 m high walls

The route opened onto a dirt track and we passed through more olive groves and wild flowers.

On the right road!
Handy picnic bench

At this picnic bench we firstly bumped into a Danish couple who we had met on day 1. They were just leaving so we had a chat and they went on their way. Also at this point was a visitor book where we could sign our names as official pilgrims!

Lunch spot

We had another snack break sitting in the shade of the olive groves. The 4 of us were chilling in the warm air and soft grass when a couple of Dutch guys came over to us for a chat.

At 16 km this was the shortest and probably easiest walk of the trip.

As we came near to Vetralla we came across a hot spring area which would have been a rest place for pilgrims of the past. This was the place we first met Marie, a 68 year old English woman who was travelling with a Canadian friend. Although he had left her behind so she was on her own!

Painted bench in Vetralla

We arrived at our Vetralla accommodation but as our rooms were not yet ready we found a cafe in the town. Compared with the gorgeous towns of the trip so far, Vetralla was… not quite as scenic. The accommodation was also fairly average, a tad above being a hostel. And our Dutch friends were also staying there. But when booking I had little choice as there is not much accommodation in Vetralla.

Vetralla is however a significant historic town with ancient origins which date back to the Etruscans of the 7th century.


In the evening we found an average restaurant in the town. The reviews were good but again, there was little choice for places to eat. And even less in terms of bars! At a push Chris and I found just one place open for a pre-dinner drink. All we could find was a shop which also sold beers and had some tables outside. We came across Marie and her friend Canadian Dave also dining in the restaurant.

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