Soriano is the largest town at the foot of Monte Cimino. It had great importance in the XIIIth century when the popes used to live in nearby Viterbo. Pope Nicholas III (1277-80) accused the lords of Soriano of heresy and conquered this town in order to give it to his brother Orso Orsini. For the advantages the pope gave to the members of his family, Dante put him in his Inferno and made him say:e veramente fui figliuol dell'orsa,
cupido si per avanzar gli orsatti
(and I truly acted like a bear/greedy (of money) to favour the little bears)
The medieval castle was strengthened in the second half of the XVth century: two coats of arms of popes of that period (Pope Calixtus III, 1455-58 and Pope Innocentius VIII, 1484-92) attest to the importance of the fortress for the defence of the papal state: a third coat of arms, that of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia is a sign of the role played by him for nearly fifty years, at first as Vice Chancellor of the pope under five popes and finally as Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503).
In the XVIIIth century Soriano was acquired by the Albani, the family of Pope Clemens XI (1700-21). Under their rule Soriano was enlarged and given new walls. A large gate announced to the travellers coming from Rome that they were entering a town belonging to the Albani (the three mountains topped by a star were the heraldic symbol of the Albani). The Albani gave a new façade to S. Eutizio, the main church of the old part of Soriano (the image in the background of this page shows the star of the Albani in the ceiling of S. Eutizio).
The Albani enlarged the palace built by the previous owners of Soriano and which had been designed by il Vignola. The gardens are embellished with several fountains, one of which is directly sculpted in the rock.
Soriano was bombed during World War II and the entrance to the old town was greatly damaged. The large cathedral is a late XVIIIth century building designed by Giuseppe Camporese and its façade shows the impact of Neoclassicism on a typical Baroque design.
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