Viterbo, in Central Italy, is a walled city with many gates, the most impressive of which is Porta Romana. While the walls were built between the 11th and 13th Centuries, this gate was redesigned a few times before settling in 1705 on today’s look. It makes a big impression on me, but is an ordinary everyday passing point to the locals. The entrance holds huge wooden doors which I've never seen closed, and cars take turns zipping in following the commands of a stop light at an intersection outside. Cars slip out of the city at some other hole on the wall.
Porta Romana is important to the city for a few reasons. One is that it's the entrance that faces Rome (hence the name). The other is that atop the entrance is the image of Santa Rosa (Saint Rose), the patron saint of the city. It is in honor of her that the city holds its biggest event of the year, the Macchina of Santa Rosa on September 3rd. Porta Romana is the starting point for an amazing tower of lights that is carried by 100 men through the town. While I've never seen the event, I was fortunate to see a practice run last summer. Astounding.
Interwoven with the wall at Porta Romana is the church of San Sisto (11th Century), which is one of Viterbo's oldest. Much of the church was damaged by Allied bombing in May of 1942, but what we see from outside the walls, including the bell tower, thankfully survived. It was under that tower that the original entrance was—before the grander entrance we see today. On each side of Santa Rosa are the coats of arms of two Popes (Clement XI and Innocent X). Below are the coats of arms for the city of Viterbo and a wealthy family—the Maidalchinis, in-laws of Pope Innocent X. But let there be no doubt who's the star of this gate: Santa Rosa. It says it there right below her statue: "Diva Rosa.”