Tradition has it that around 1172, Viterbo’s army destroyed the beautiful old town of Ferento, Lazio, out of fear it would expand.
According to historian Ignazio Ciampi (“Cronache e statuti della città di Viterbo”, Florence 1872), the “civitas splendidissima” – where emperors and illustrious Roman citizens had been born – was subject to the kind of jealousy that often tarnished relations between neighbors at the time: “Ferento was no more than seven miles away from Viterbo. The former was flourishing with youth, the latter proud of its ancient roots. Viterbo […] wanted its rival either subdued or completely smothered.”
As such brute, political reasons were not “marketable” enough, different motives were fabricated. As often happens, the attackers claimed they even had religious reasons to intervene: they said Ferento had succumbed to the heresy of Cerdon, who professed Christ had not died on the cross because God could not abandon him.
Today, what is left of those violent days is a beautiful Roman theater from the early days of the Empire, where Ferento’s summer shows are held. How ironic, for a place where a whole war was a political farce.