This Gothic palace was built in the 13th century as a residence for popes looking to get away from the city. At that time Rome was notoriously unhealthful, ridden with malaria and plague and rampaging factions of rival barons. In 1271 the palace was the scene of a novel type of rebellion. A conclave held here to elect a new pope had dragged on for months. The people of Viterbo were exasperated by the delay, especially as custom decreed that they had to provide for the
cardinals' board and lodging for the duration of the conclave. So they tore the roof off the great hall where the cardinals were meeting, and put them on bread and water. Sure enough, a new pope—Gregory X—was elected in short order.