From solemn depths to dizzying heights Viterbo’s ascending scale of adventurous exploration takes you up to the top of Monte Palanzana who’s vantage point allows you to behold Lazio’s own stunning vista as far as the eye can see.
Several hours of sunny daylight and a mild breeze are perfect weather conditions to conquer Viterbo’s most prominent mountain whilst it broods ominously over its daring victors with every step. In truth, its bark is worse than its bite.
The walk, albeit uphill, is clearly marked and pleasantly easy-going with only a few stompingly steep slopes to sink your teeth in to – enough to make you feel like a real adventurer but not so much as to ‘knacker you out’ and make you wish for Bear Grylls-style survival training.
As well as the numerous “cinghiale” (wild boars) that reside in the Palanzana Nature Reserve covering the mountain the walk is frequented by many families, picnic-goers, and mushroom-pickers alike, and once you’ve navigated the correct path the reward which awaits you atop is worth all the puffing and panting!
The view allows you to see for miles and miles over Lazio, beyond the distant towns and countryside to the hazy blue mountain range on the horizon. The price of climbing the mountain – a few calories, some of the best things in life are free.
A clear day, a sturdy pair of walking boots, good company, and a bottle of water are all you need here. And bring your camera!
Hiding in Plain Sight
The most difficult element of hiking Monte Palanzana is not climbing the mountain but finding the mountain! Truly the most challenging part of the whole escapade was in trying to reach the foot of Ol’ Monti from the winding streets of the city. No road leads to the mountain, it appears.
If you think that to head in the general direction of the towering colossal should be enough to lead you gently to its footpath you are gravely mistaken. The mountain’s powers of teleportation will seduce and misguide you to walking almost straight past it as it watches and sniggers at you from its hooked summit.
Of course, the mountain doesn’t move an inch but after storming up and down roads and country lanes towards it, only to find it beside or behind you, one starts to wonder whether it is a mirage.
For first-time hikers attempting to find the pathway up then mountain all I can advise is this – persevere! The residential streets outside Viterbo’s old town are not easy to plot a course by.
If you’re expecting any kind of markings or directions then you are more likely to be directed by the giant finger of God than a road sign, so be sure to dedicate a good long day to walking and start early. Once you make it you’ll see it’s worth it!
The view from Monte Palanzana (circa 2016). Photo by Steph (Also featured image).
Viterbo, and indeed the entire Lazio region, has something to offer all tastes; from ancient history, to regional festivities, to local cuisine, to specialised forms of leisure and relaxation.
There is so much more I could include in my article that you could spend an entire week reading this alone. But all of these things which I have not included can be easily found on the internet such as the Parco dei Mostri, Civita di Bagnoregio, the Chestnut Festival in Canepina, Villa Lante, Lake Bolsena and many more, and all a short bus or train ride out of Viterbo.
All these places I was fortunate enough to visit and experience and they are stunning, hidden gems of the region. If you care for something different to your usual visit to Rome why not try Northern Lazio, where there’s more than meets the eye!