Recently converted into a hotel and just two kilometers from the centro storico of Viterbo, Domus La Quercia is a 15th century monastery with a rich history. It is closely associated with the Church of S. Maria della Quercia, a sanctuary housing a miraculous Tegola or roof tile, on which there is a painting of the Madonna and Child. Legend has it that this roof tile, painted in 1417, was placed in the upper branches of an oak tree by a local landowner seeking protection of his land. Soon many miracles were attributed to the image and a small humble church was built to enclose the tree and the roof tile.
In 1468, construction was begun on a larger church and bell tower, along with a monastery complex with a dormitory, dining hall, vegetable garden, cemetery, and artisan shops. First occupied by the Jesuit Fathers, then by the Dominicans, the monastery became the heart of the town that grew into being, named La Quercia for the original oak tree. By the end of the 15th century, the church of S. Maria della Quercia had become an important place of pilgrimage.
In 1933, the convent was eventually abandoned. The Holy See then purchased the property and used it as the Pontifical Seminary for the upper Lazio region. The seminary closed in 1974 and again, the monastery was abandoned. It was converted into a hotel and opened its doors to guests in 1999.
The large complex includes a splendid Renaissance cloister, the original refectory designed by Antonio Sangallo, and long vaulted corridors that separate the cells. As a hotel, it has seen little change to the basic structure and the air is still one of contemplative tranquillity. Rooms line the vast corridors with their immensely high vaulted ceilings. The inner rooms face the picturesque 16th century cloister with its central stone fountain. The bedrooms are large, airy, comfortably furnished with little ornamentation anywhere – a simplicity that makes La Quercia blissfully appealing.
All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson
Hotel Domus La Quercia
Viale Fiume, 112, 01100 Viterbo ~ Lazio, Italy
Hotel Domus La Quercia ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson