It is at the San Sisto Church that the Macchina di Santa Rosa begins its march through the streets of Viterbo every year on September 3. Before the procession begins, the carriers of the Macchina gather in the church to be specially blessed. The San Sisto Church is the oldest church in the city.
San Sisto Church Viterbo
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
The address of the Chiesa di San Sisto is Piazza San Sisto – Viterbo. Opening hours: Unknown. Entrance fee: Free.
History and description
The church has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. In the Middle Ages, there was a hamlet on the site called Vico Quinzano, with a church dedicated to San Marco. The San Sisto Church was built on the ruins of this, much smaller church.
The columns of the church’s bell tower are similar to those of the campanile of Santa Maria in Cella Church and of the cloister of Santa Maria Nuova Church.
The original church, built in the 11th century, was a lot smaller. When the city expanded in the 13th century towards the Porta San Sisto, the church was also made larger and in order to build the apse, even part of the city wall had to go.
Since this wall was much higher than the original church, a steep staircase needed to be constructed between the two parts of the church. One of the towers of the city wall was subsequently converted into a bell tower.
After being severely damaged by bombing in World War II, the San Sisto Church was restored to its original state as best as possible.
What to see
The portal of the church dates back to the 16th century.
The two bell towers are different from each other. The larger one is built into the city wall and the smaller one dates from the Longobard period and is the only part of the church that still retains its original structure.
The interior consists of three naves, separated from each other by 10 columns. Some of these columns have Corinthian capitals, others Ionic, which are decorated with leaves.
In the left nave there are two tabernacles, one of which is made of marble and dates from the 15th century, while the second was made a century later.
The presbytery is a 12th or 13th century addition and is higher than the rest of the church.
To the right of the entrance there is an ancient well that was probably found in a Roman villa in the area and turned into a baptismal font.
In the crypt there is a column with an inscription from 1618.
The painting “Madonna with Child and Saints” is by Neri di Bicci and was painted in 1457.