Sutri (ancient Sutrium) is a town in the province of Viterbo, located on a tuff stone cliff spur overlooking the Via Cassia. Important archaeological evidence in the area, from different periods, confirm the presence of settlements since ancient times. Founded, according to tradition, by a population of sailors coming from the East, the Pelasgians, the area was certainly inhabited since the Bronze Age. The area had a strong and effective development, both agricultural and commercial, with the Etruscan colonization, ended in 181 B.C. with the capitulation of Veio, in favor of the growing power of Rome. After the fall of the Empire, like most of the possessions of Rome, the town was the subject to the raids of Barbarians. Involved in the struggle between the Byzantines and the Lombards, it was ceded by the Lombard king Liutprando to Pope Gregory II. According to tradition here, in a nearby cavern, Berta, the sister of Charlemagne, banished from the court for being in love with a man of humble origins, gave birth and raised her son Orlando (or Rolando), the later hero of several medieval tales that narrate his feats of chivalry.
After being destroyed by a fire in 1433, started by Nicolò Fortenbraccio, the town submitted a period of economic decline.
Sites of Interest:
- Porta Vecchia (Old Gateway), of Etruscan-Roman origins, refurbished in the Middle Ages. It features stone blocks of the Etruscan period and brick elements of the Roman Ages;
- the Cathedral, built in Romanesque style on an existing religious building dating from the dawn of Christianity. The Bell Tower dates back to 1200, while the interior, enhanced by a floor of polychrome Cosmati tiles, preserves a statue of the school of Bernini and a table in the Byzantine style of the XIII century. Also interesting is the Antiquarium, with Roman and medieval exhibits, housed in a room behind the choir and the crypt, that dates back to year 1000;
- the Church of the Madonna del Parto, entirely carved into the tufa rock. It was originally an Etruscan tomb, transformed by the Romans in a temple dedicated to the god Mithras, and finally, into a church, with the advent of Christianity;
- the Etruscan necropolis, built in the tufa rock;
- the Amphitheater, of Etruscan and Roman origins with an elliptical shape, excavated in the tufa rock;
- the Cave of Orlando, a cavern of Etruscan origins where, according to tradition, the Paladin of France, Orlando, grandson of Charlemagne, was born;
- the Catacombs of St. Juvenal.