Among Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Come with us to discover Etruria. We will travel together through the villages of an ancient and fascinating place.
The sound of the word Etruria evokes an ancient charm. The English writer D.H. Lawrence, author among others of the famous book Lady Chatterly's lover was so fascinated by it that he dragged a friend on an adventurous journey through the Etruscan places and wrote a book about it.
But where is Etruria? It is an area that corresponds to present-day Tuscany, western Umbria and northern Lazio with offshoots to the south and north. The ancient Etruscan people lived in these areas, the Greeks called them the Tyrrhenian because they were good sailors and we owe the name of the Tyrrhenian Sea to them. Come with us to discover unusual and fascinating travel destinations.
The Etruscans were an elegant people, profound and respectful of nature, politically fair, women also had their power and actively participated in city life. For their cities they always chose panoramic points: on heights or overlooking the sea, where they could quietly observe the sunrise and sunset. D.H. Lawrence of the Etruscans said they lived breathing freely and pleasantly, with a certain fullness of life.
They had a healthy cuisine, made up of the right mix of local products, to which they also added fish and meat. Today expert chefs are trying to re-propose ancient recipes that you can enjoy by following the advice we will give you. The Etruscans loved the arts, admirable drawings with an extraordinary use of color have come down to us. It was a people who delighted in music, an art that accompanied all daily activities, even hunting.
Let's find out where the most evocative destinations of the ancient cities of Etruria are hidden, imagining a map to be used to orient yourself on a wonderful journey.
Etruria, the Tuscan part
Although considered a mysterious people, the Etruscans have left an immense heritage as a legacy, let's start our journey from Tuscany, here the sites are innumerable and all eligible for visits and itineraries. On the shores of the sea, overlooking the magnificent gulf of Baratti we find the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia. The name of the city comes from Pupluna, the ancient Etruscan god of wine and inebriation. Populonia was the first city where coins were minted, given the great metalworking for which it was famous. The metals came from the island of Elba. Entering the woods of the park you will be breathless as you find yourself in front of the necropolis of the caves, chamber tombs dug into the living rock.
Almost on the border with Emilia-Romagna, on the slopes of Mount Falterona, we find the enigmatic and evocative site of the lake of idols, in this area were found 14,000 bronze votive statuettes, now kept in the Casentino Archaeological Museum. Still, in the area at the MAEC of Cortona (Museum of the Etruscan Academy of the city of Cortona) together with numerous other finds, you can admire a bronze chandelier with the head of the Gorgon in the center, a very precious and unique find.
Returning to the coast near Vetulonia we find the cyclopean walls of Roselle, seven meters high by three kilometers in length, representing the walls of the ancient and powerful city of Roselle connected to the sea with a navigable channel that flowed into Castiglion della Pescaia.
Finally, we cannot fail to mention the National Archaeological Museum of Florence, where numerous testimonies of Etruscan art are kept, including: the stupendous chimera of Arezzo, an example of the bronze sculpture of the Etruscans and the sarcophagus of the Amazons, one of the few which shows traces of paint.
Etruria, the Umbrian part
In our adventurous journey to discover the Etruscans and Etruria, it is good to remember that very often over time the Etruscan traces have merged with other civilizations and are still present today in many cities. This itinerary will therefore be an opportunity to see or review various Italian cities which, before being as we know today, were ancient Etruscan cities. In Umbria it will be easy to discover because the most famous Etruscan cities correspond to the city of Perugia and that of Orvieto, let's discover them together. Perugia was one of the most important Etruscan cities, starting from the historic center, if we are very careful, we notice an imposing arch, what is called Arco di Augusto was the Etruscan arch that delimited the entrance to the city together with six other gates, on the sides in fact, a wall was built around the arch, still visible in some points today. If we move to the basement of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo we find the remains of the largest city temple from the Etruscan era. While a few km from the Umbrian capital in Ponte San Giovanni, we find the necropolis of Palazzone and the hypogeum of the Volumni, the necropolis is very extensive and consists of about 200 burials.
Moving on to Orvieto, a beautiful town located on a tuff rock. It is possible to visit the undergrounds of the city to discover what is hidden underground, here with the help of a guide it is possible to visit tunnels and wells from the Etruscan era in a very adventurous journey. Still in Orvieto, but at the base of the tuff rock, it is possible to visit the Etruscan necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo. Typical of this necropolis is the presence of many inscriptions which bear witness to the names of the ancient inhabitants of Orvieto. Impossible not to mention the Roman Etruscan Museum of Todi, where a large number of finds are kept.
Etruria, the Latium part
In Lazio region there are many and interesting Etruscan sites, all located in upper Lazio between Tuscia and the lower Maremma. Starting from the north, the first noteworthy site is the ancient city of Vulci, in the Tuscia area of Viterbo. The ancient city, today the Vulci Archaeological Park, is made up of 120 hectares of land, which include walls, temples, a forum, a domus, a mithraeum and a necropolis. The park stands on a slight rise and a river flow at the base. If you venture out in the summer, know that inside the park there is also a wonderful lake where you can take a bath and that it was a film set for the famous film We just have to cry with Massimo Troisi and the film Three men and a leg by the three comedians Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo. Given its extension within the park, electric bikes can be rented to make everything more pleasant. In these parts we can recommend the beautiful Fonte Vulci Resort, which also has thermal pools whose many potentials the Etruscans had already discovered. In the Resort's kitchen, the chef will be able to recommend Etruscan recipes to make everything more evocative.
Going south we find two UNESCO sites: the necropolis of Tarquinia and the annexed National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia where all the artifacts found during the archaeological excavations are kept, many in a good state of conservation and worthy of note such as the winged horses and the reconstruction of the tomb of the triclinium, defined by the archaeologist who discovered it as the tomb of joy and celebrations and even further south the necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri, where you will have the impression of having in front of your eyes many UFO discs landed centuries ago and covered in moss and weeds.
Half an hour by car from Cerveteri going towards the coast we find what in antiquity was the famous port of Pyrgi, today the site is in the locality of Santa Severa where a beautiful castle stands, inside which we find the Museum of ancient navigation and the Antiquarium. In addition to a port, Pyrgi had a sacred area, which can be visited today, which consisted of a group of temples, in 1964 three gold plates were found right next to one of the temples (a copy is kept in the Antiquarium of the Castle) crucial for the reconstruction of the Etruscan language. The temples were particularly rich given the presence in the temple of Astarte of cells dedicated to sacred priestesses to whom rich rewards were left. If you want to stay overnight in these parts, we can recommend the Terme di Stigliano hotel, here too you can enjoy thermal waters, tranquility, good food and the coolness of the surrounding area rich of nature.