"One day, the Etruscan laughed while he lay here..."
wrote the poet Vincenzo Cardarelli. But evidence of human existence in the Viterbese Tuscia dates back much further to the Appenine Civilization (xv-xii century Bc), and there are findings in "Luni sul Mignone" (Blera) and at the bottom of "Mezzano Lake" (Valentano). However, remains of settlements dating back to the Bronze Age were discovered at the "Lamone forest" (Farnese) and at "San Giovenale" (Blera).

The tour begins at Viterbo, the city that has preserved Etruscan necropoli and settlements that are architecturally speaking considered to be the most interesting. Apart from the necropoli of Castel D'asso and Norchia (iv century Bc), the exhibits of which are kept in the National Museum of Rocca Albornoz and in the Civic Museum of S.Maria della Verità, extraordinary examples of Etruscan architecture can be found at Acquarossa, where the presence of an important archaic settlement is evident (viii-vi century Bc). To be able to plunge into the Augustus era one must pay a visit to the ruins of Ferento, the origins of which date back to the 3rd century Bc, or perhaps a visit to the ruins of the Roman Baths in the region of Bagnaccio. After having passed the Cimini Hills, the following visits concern the remains of Falerii Novi (a Falisci city conquered by the Romans in 241 Bc) situated near Fabrica di Roma, the National Museum of Civita Castellana (inside the XIVth century Borgian stronghold) and the Etruscan Necropolis (vi-iv century Bc), plus the splendid Amphiteatre at Sutri Of particular interest are the Etruscan necropoles of San Giuliano (vii-iv century Bc), Barbarano Romano and Pian Del Vescovo and Mattarello (viii-ii century Bc) at Blera. At San Giuliano there are also fascinating remains of an Etruscan-Roman city and one from the Middle Ages. Remaining in the Blera region it is possible to see the already noted prehistoric settlement at Luni Sul Mignone, the medieval city and an Etruscan necropolis at Norchia (easily accessible from here even if situatedin the area of Viterbo). We then reach the area between Vejano and Farnese that was once connected by Via Clodia. Ample remains of Roman pavings belonging to the ancient consular road are still visible today in the thick undergrowth.

Before going to Tuscania it is worth visiting the Etruscan necropoles in Vetralla, Grotta Porcina (vii-ii century Bc) and Cerracchio (vi-v century Bc) and the remains of the Forum Cassii a former ancient station, to later become the site of several Roman villas along the Cassia Consular. Here we are in Tuscania. It is here that the Etruscans created and exported the fascinating sarcofagi made of nenfro, visitable today in the National Museum of S.Maria del Riposo. There are twelve Etruscan necropoles. The most famous being: Madonna Dell'olivo (v-iv century Bc) with the Queen's Tomb, Peschiera (vii-vi century Bc) with the Dice-Shaped Tomb and Pian di Mola (vi century Bc). The Roman period is marked by the remains of the Baths, of the Via Clodia and of villas situated on the acropolis of San Pietro. From Tuscania we reach Tarquinia, the home of poet Cardarelli. A visit to Palace Vitelleschi, the National Museum centre, is a definite must for those who wish to have a closer look at Etruscan civilization.

The most interesting artistic attractions are undoubtly the Painted Tombs, the result of an extraordinary artistic symbiosis betweenthe Etruscans and Magna Grecia. Among the most interesting tombs are those of Triclinio (v century Bc), Auguri (530 Bc), Baron or Horses (end of VI century Bc), Hunting and Fishing (520-510 Bc), Jugglers (end of VI century Bc), Cardarelli (end of VI century Bc), Leopards (470 Bc), Orcus (iv-iii century Bc).
It is also worth visiting the remainsof the Etruscan temple Ara Della Regina and the Roman Port of Gravisca. Along the coastline following the Aurelia, you reach Vulci in the region of Canino and Montalto di Castro. This is undoubtly one of the richest archeological areas of the region. The Etruscan necropoles of Ponte Rotto, Osteria, Cavalupo, Cuccumella, containing more than 30.000 tombs, can be admired. The Cuccumella necropolis is famous for the François Tomb from the IV century Bc. The imposing remains of the etruscan-roman City can be visited, together with the National Museum inside the Badia Castle. From Canino we move to Farnese and Ischia di Castro where apart from the already noted prehistoric settlements (the most famous and most studied being Sorgenti Della Nova), the many Etruscan necropoles scattered across the region are worth visiting (vii-vi century Bc). As are the ruinsof the city of Castro, the capital of the Farnese Duchy, destroyed in 1649 by the papal troops and never rebuilt. The last stops on our archeological itinerary are the already noted Mezzano Lake, with its important remains of prehistoric pile-dwelling settlements, the vast necropolis of Bisenzio (originally an Etruscan city) at Capodimonte, the pile-dwelling settlements in the Gran Carro area, the Etruscan necropoles of Poggio Pesce and Battaglini and the Territorial Museumof The Lake at Bolsena (Monaldeschi Castle). Finally to Grotte di Castro, the strange necropoles of Vigna di Piazza, of Maccarino, with its unique painted tombs, and of Pianezze (vii-v century Bc)

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  1. Amawalker  

    January 3, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    Whilst visiting Capranica our B&B landlady took us on a midnight viewing of Etruscan ruins on their olive plantation.

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