city, Lazio (Latium) region, central Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Cimini Mountains, northwest of Rome. Of Etruscan origin, the town was taken by the Romans about 310 BC. In 774 Viterbo was included among the Lombard towns of Tuscany, and it was given by Matilda of Tuscany to the pope in the 11th century. An independent commune and an episcopal see from 1193, Viterbo occasioned three centuries of disputes between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire before it became a papal possession in 1396. Viterbo rivaled Rome as the papal residence after 1257, but it again declined in importance after the removal of the papacy to Avignon, Fr., in 1309.
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