San Martino al Cimino is a small community about 5 kilometres outside of Viterbo. The village is known as a beautiful starting point for forest walks and excursions to, among others, Lago di Vico.
San Martino al Cimino Viterbo
History and description
The oldest part of San Martino al Cimino is called the Borgo. This central area of the city is closed off by two city gates. The first one leads to Viterbo, the second up into the mountains.
The inhabitants of the town used to distinguish between those of the Rione di Sopra (“Upper Quarter”) and those from the Rione di Sotto.
When entering the Borgo through a gate in the lower town wall, the first thing you see is the Cistercian Abbey together with the Palazzo di Donna Olimpia, named after Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphili, sister-in-law of Pope Innocenzo III.
It was the Pope who, in 1645, gifted Donna Olimpia with the municipality of San Martino and turned it into a principality. The building named after her is now the seat of the Ente Turistico Provinciale.
The district is characterized by houses built with their backs to the rock wall, all looking exactly the same.
In order to increase the population, Donna Olimpia had had released prisoners from of Civitavecchia and Tarquinia prisons brought to San Martino. They built the houses and came to live there as well.
Life in those days took place almost entirely in the streets, for the craftsmen’s rooms were too small and dark.
There was also a room intended for playing pallacorda, a kind of tennis.
In winter, the Sagra delle Castagne takes place here, when chestnuts are roasted in the Piazza di Sopra and local women sell home-made sweets.