The Surrounding Area
The city, the towns that are situated around Civitavecchia form the territory which, as a whole, is qualified to be part of a real tourist itinerary; if, in fact, one has a change to visit the area, it is clear that this area is full of the most varied elements, all of which are of interest to tourism in general (art, history, culture, archeology, nature, entertainment, attractions, etc.).
In summary, we can trace a general picture starting from the coastal towns that extend to the south of Civitavecchia.
Starting from the town that is furthest away - Cervetri, it may be affirmed that is town, whose extraordinary fame is mainly attributable to its great importance as an Etruscan city which dates back to the XIII century BC when it was called "Caere"; but there is another aspect of this beautiful town that deserves mention and that is its extraordinary geographical position, since it rises close to the sea and next to the Lake of Bracciano (downstream).
Continuing along the Via Aurelia towards Civitavecchia, one can stop and visit the enchanting Santa Severa, a town famous mainly for the splendid medieval castle that faces the sea and the numerous archeological treasures that refer mainly to the ruins of Pyrgi (one of the main Etruscan ports of Caere), situated near the castle itself: at the same time, there are also a variety of facilities for those that love the sea, beaches and the night life.
Leaving behind Santa Severa and proceeding along the Via Aurelia in the same direction, just before Civitavecchia there coastal town of Santa Marinella opens out; this town today mainly aims at tourism, not only because of the numerous archeological findings from all ages, but also for the highly equipped summer establishments which line the coast.
Continuing further down to Civitavecchia where, following the via Terme di Traiano in the direction that leads to the highway turnoff for Grossetto, it is possible to visit the famous Tolfa mountains, formed by hills that reach 638 meters above sea level and are bounded off by the Mignone river; these hills, which are also a famous natural park, are of notable naturalistic interest, characterized by their extraordinary and still uncontaminated nature, and archeological interest, due to the presence of numerous Etruscan necropolis; from here one reaches the top of the hill and can finally visit the extraordinary town of Tolfa, rich in traditions, some of which are the expression of an ancient culture that dates back to the Middle Ages like, on the other hand, all the architecture in this place.
Taking the Aurelia route again, after about 10 kilometers in the direction of Grosseto, one comes to the famous Tarquinia; it could be said that this is the Etruscan town by excellence, rich in history, culture and archeological treasures of the Etruscan people of which, to this date, very little is known; but Tarquinia is not only this; it in fact presents itself as an ideal Summer location, since its beach is characterized by bathing facilities that are capable of ensuring that a tourist's stay is truly pleasant.
Cerveteri is located close to the Tyrrhenian coast, to the north of Rome, at the foot of the Ceriti mountains, overhanging a tuff spur.
There are signs of its existence which date back to the VIII Century BC. It quickly became an important Etruscan town with detriment to Tarquinia.
The Greeks established exchange relationships and promoted the development of local artisan techniques.
The progress bought about commercial and business organization that was favored by the ports of Alsium (Palo), Pirgy (Santa Severa), Panicum (Santa Marinella).
The period during which Caere flourished the most is evidenced by the necropolis. In the year 350 BC the city finally fell under Rome.
The castle is the center of medieval Cerveteri and includes part of the Etruscan walls of the IV century BC. The castle was donated to the government by the Ruspali family to host the national museum of Cerveteri, here the burial garments of the tombs are displayed on two floors. In the Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia there is evidence of how the funeral customs for those of Cerveteri changed through the centuries (VII-I BC), from cremation to burying bodies in underground in well-like tombs, graves and then rooms.
Outside the fenced visiting area there are: the burial place for the Chairs and Shields with carved tones and shields, the tomb of the bedroom with a matrimonial burial cell dug into the wall, the tomb of the Tarquini with a memorial stone bearing their name, the tomb of the Triclinium, the tomb of the Sarcophagus, where seven sarcophaguses were found, the tomb of the painted Lions, the tomb of G. Moretti, and the tomb of the Ship.
Inside the fenced are there are cinerary urns, the first vault tomb and grave-mounds of the via Sepolcrale.
The tomb of the Capitelli open up with a large vestibule where there are two pillars crowned with capitals (VI century BC). The most ancient burial place of the necropolis (dated in the VII century and called Tumulus II) contains 4 axial tombs, which include the tomb of the Shed and the tomb of the Greek Vases.
Continuing down the via Sepolcrale one reaches the tomb of the Reliefs or Beautiful tomb (IV century BC): as evidenced by the inscription it belonged to the Matunas family. It consists in a single room with over thirty deposits and shows splendid reliefs in stucco and paint around the walls and on supporting pillars, which give an idea of Etruscan furnishings: knives, ladles, saddlebags, swords, helmets, household animals and objects. The tomb of the Frame (halfway through the VI century BC) is really worth a mention. An entire ‘dado’ tomb district of the V century BC shows a standard block structure with rectangular façade, corridor, vestibule and two rooms.
Nearby: Ladispoli (7 km), famous beach resort. Not far away there is Palo, where there is the turreted Odescalchi castle, immersed in splendid park which now days has been made into a faunistic oasis: a sighting tower in the XII century and a ‘castro’ in the XIV century, the building was transformed into a fortified noble castle when it became property of the Orsini.
Pope Lion X had the castle restored b y Giuliano Leno and Gianfrancesco da Sangallo, to look like a genteel place.
The castle then passed to the Odelscalchi who, with a few interventions, have conserved it until today.
Nearby it is also possible to see some ruins of a Roman villa, decorated with mosaics of the III century: this is villa ‘La Posta’ of the eighteenth century.
Just like, or even more so than Santa Marinella, Santa Severa is a location rich is history, culture and archeological discoveries, elements which, together with the beautiful sea and numerous tourist facilities that color the coastline, make it a pleasant place for a vacation for those who during the summer would like to have a relaxing and at the same time enjoyable vacation without leaving the province of Rome. One of the strong points of this town is most surely the splendid medieval castle that faces the sea.
it was built around the XI century as a defensive rampart of the coastline, near the ruins of Pyrgi, one of the main Etruscan ports of Caere (it should be noted that the Castle of Santa Severa and the archeological area of Pyrgi constitute one of the most important historic-archeological points of interest of the Tyrhennian coast), furthermore, the area that surrounds the castle appears to date back to at least the IV millenium BC.
Here there are some of the most varied facilities, also for those who love the beach, the sea, the night life. Santa Severa is only a few kilometers from Santa Marinella, going down the Aurelia in the direction of Rome.
Pyrgi and the Castle of Santa Severa
The history of this location dates back to the bronze age, a period in which it was possible to ascertain the existence of a small colony to the south of the castle, near the sea, which probable formed a point of reference for navigators at that time. In the VII century BC the favorable environmental conditions made it possible to build a fixed dock; during archaic times (VI century BC) Pyrgi, which was connected to Caere (Cerveteri) by a monumental road, was a commercial dock of primary importance, open to traffic from the entire Mediterranean basin. Along the outskirts of the town, there is a very ancient Sanctuary that spreads out for over 10 acres which is mentioned by various sources and includes the temples to Etruscan and Phoenician divinities. The three famous gold sheets inscribed in Etruscan and Punic, which are a direct testimony of the deep ties that existed between the Etruscans of Cerveteri and the Carthaginians at the end of the VI century, were found while digging in this Sanctuary. In the III century BC, with the Roman dominion over the territory of Cerite, Pyrgi became a sea colony, a great rectangular fortress built over part of the Etruscan built-up area. It continued to exist until late into the ancient period (V-VI century BC); during this period it was transformed into a large villa that became imperial property. The higher medieval period saw the development of the castle and village of Santa Severa (Pyrgian martyr of the III century BC). The "Norman" tower was built in the XI century and the castle in the XIV century. The village next to the castle houses the civic museum of Santa Severa.
Santa Marinella is today the result of the incessant work carried out by distant generations that date back to prehistoric times, work that has transformed the local scene and natural environment in the perpetual race to acquire and exploit resources: from the small settlements in the Neolithic age we have in fact, after various milleniums, come to the city plans of the Odescalchi which, at the beginning of the 1900s, gave birth to modern-day Santa Marinella.
This town, located just a few kilometers from Civitavecchia, following the Aurelia in the direction of Rome, is today mainly oriented on tourism, not only because of the numerous archeological findings from all ages, but also thanks to the well equipped summer bathing resorts and entertainment establishments that line the coast.
These locations are surely worth a visit because, even if not very lively during the winter season, they become a kaleidoscope of entertainment in the Summer. It could not be any other way, given the facilities and features that characterize Santa Marinella today, modeled after its most important asset - the sea.
At this point, it appears appropriate to provide some brief information on those that are the most important archeological sites, amongst the large number that dot the Santa Marinella area.
The Roman Villa of the Grottacce
At kilometer 58,200 of the Via Aurelia, between the road and the beach, there are the remains of the Roman Villa of the Grottacce, one of the classic Villae Maritimae of the coast. The extensive settlement includes a large fish and shell fish nursery (Pescheria) and a long dock which today is almost totally submerged. What remains of the villa are large structures that served as service rooms and for production activities, while the residential area above has been almost totally destroyed by sea erosion, atmospheric conditions and looting which took place over the centuries. The walls reveal a complicated building history that goes from the I century BC to the IV century BC.
The Roman Bridges of Santa Marinella
In the territory of Santa Marinella one finds the well preserved remains of numerous Roman bridges found on the route of the ancient via Aurelia, a famous link between Rome, the Etruscan coastline and Liguria, built in the III century BC along a previous Etruscan route. Particularly interesting and monumental are the bridge of Lake Impero (km 60,400 of the Via Aurelia) and the Bridge of Via Roma (km 60,700). The beautiful Bridge of the "Vignacce" (km 62,300) is today difficult to access. At km 59,700 of the Via Aurelia there is a very interesting inscribed stone commemorating the restoration of the Bridge of Apollo, ordered by the Emperors Settimio Severo and Caracolla: the remains of the bridge, partially uncovered during medieval and modern restoration, are preserved at the “Fosso di Castelsecco, between the Via Aurelia and the sea.
Punicum, the Villa of Ulpiano and the Odescalchi Castle
The promontory of Santa Marinella was once the site of the ancient Punicum, a settlement of Etruscan origin which was born by chance near a point where it was easy to land and protected from the wind and the sea. During Roman times, a luxurious seaside villa was built complete with port and fish farming (peschiere- fish pools) equipment purchased, maybe at the beginning of the III century BC, from the famous legal counselor Ulpiano. The most interesting remains of this villa (statues, mosaics, etc.) are dispersed in various museums and private collections, while numerous architectonic fragments and some sepulchral inscriptions are maintained in the gardens of the Odelscalchi castle and the surrounding villas. Around the XI century a small colony settled on this site, under the protection of the a high cylinder-like tower, with its place of worship dedicated to Saint Marinella and cared for by a community of Brazilian Monks. During the following centuries, through complex situations, the castle was built which absorbed the cylinder-link tower (XV century). In 1634, Pope Urban VIII began work to build a large port that would move part of Civitavecchia’s traffic to Santa Marinella. The Odelscalchi castle, with its nearby village, has remained in control of the small underlying port and coastline until almost now days.
The town of Castrum Novum, which extended between Torre Chiaruccia and the Alibrandi hamlet (km 64 of the Via Aurelia), was a Roman seaside colony which in the year 264 BC was committed to defend the southern part of the territory of Cerite, probably repopulated in Caesarian times. There are numerous wall structures, marble or mosaic floors, tubs and colonnades of the Imperial phase, all of which prove that it existed, all these are discoveries made during the studies carried out over the last three centuries, which uncovered some very interesting finds amongst which a terminus of the veiled Aspasia, statues of emperors, a small statue of Baccus, and an exceptional discovery made in 1778 of a casket containing 122 gold coins that date back to the I and II centuries AC. Furthermore, numerous materials from the iron age (IX century BC) and the archaic Etruscan era document that the area was also frequented before the inference of the Roman colony. Lastly, at km 64,600, near the Guard moat there are some remains of thermal facilities and other structures relative to a Roman seaside villa, with a rectangular fish pool which today is almost totally submerged.
The Fish Pool of Punta della Vipera (Viper’s point)
One of the most interesting and complete examples of a Roman fish pool, to be seen along the entire Tyrhennian coastline to the north of Rome, is surely the one found at km 66 of the via Aurelia, in the locality of Punta della Vipera. The facility, which was probably built around the end of the I century BC, is made up of various rectangular tubs, distributed around a large central circular basin that measures over 20 meters in diameter. The central tub still shows traces of the openings and plumbing system that distributed the waters into the farm and regulated the outflow. The fish pool was controlled by a seaside villa situated in the nearby hinterland which today, unfortunately, has been totally constructed.
The Etruscan Sanctuary of Punta della Vipera
A small, isolated, rural, Etruscan Sanctuary was found always in the locality of Punta della Vipera,. The Sanctuary was founded around the year 53 BC and underwent various reconstruction around the mid III and IV centuries BC. The Sanctuary was dedicated to Minerva. Around the half of the I century BC, this place of worship, which had been abandoned, was almost totally demolished in order to build a villa.
Tolfa Mountains Natural Park
Tolfa presents a city plan which blends perfectly with the naturalistic features of the location and also respects the original configuration of a town which has existed since the Middle Ages.
The various Etruscan necropolis that have risen around the town are numerous and interesting; this goes to prove that there are human settlements around the Tolfa area that date back not only to the Etruscan era but to the Paleolithic era. The most thriving period for Tolfa was the higher Middle Ages; the numerous structures that date back to that time still, in fact, give it an appearance which surely evokes in its visitors a spirit of times gone bye.
On the hill it is possible to see the ruins of a castle that once belonged to the Frangipane brothers. In 1502, Agostino Chigi, the contractor of the alum mines, decided to dismantle the rock and transferred the pieces of artillery to Porto Ercole. On the hill there is a Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of the Sorrows 'SANTA MARIA DELLA PIETA', which has always represented for the citizens of Tolfa, a common sense of belonging and synthesis of their history.
The Palace of the Region
The "Baronale" palace is a primitive building, built between the walls and supported in part by an arch on the top of which one can admire the coat of arms.
It was built around the year 1200 and was the seat from which all public power was exercised. The Governor had to live in this palace.
The building was also known as "PALAZZO DELLA RAGIONE" (Palace of Reason).
The church of Saint Egidio is situated inside the walls that surround the town and dates back to the XIV century.
This church, which is dedicated to Saint Egidio who is the Patron Saint of Tolfa, has undergone deep transformations during the years, compared to the original and surely much smaller structure.
The Church of the Capuchins
The church and nearby convent date back to the first half of the 1600's. The first improvements were made around 1730 by the guardian of the Capuchins, Father Alessio da Campine.
Inside the church, above the alter, there is a painting of the "Madonna di Cibona" (Our Lady of Cibona) (end of the 1400's, beginning of the 1500's), an original fresco that was detached from the back wall of the church with the same name. The cloister of the convent, with a well in the center made of local stones, is built along simple and elegant lines, in compliance with the rules of life of the Franciscans.
From the font square one views the historical center dominated by the rock and remains fascinated.
The ancient Municipal Building and Clock Tower
The ancient municipal building was built in via Frangipane, outside the medieval walls, after alum was discovered and following the growth of the city.
Nearby one can see the Clock Tower which dates back to the year 1602 (as evidenced by the inscription carved on the marble), on the top there are, closed in a wrought iron cage, the bells that would beat away the daily lives of the old citizens of Tolfa.
The Fountain of Piazza Vecchia
The fountain, built in Piazza Giacomo Matteotti (which has always been called "Piazza Vecchia"), was restored in the year 1888 in order to bring fresh drinking water to the people of Tolfa: for the occasion it was necessary to fit it with a tub and, in the center, a column with two water spouts.
The Church of Our Lady of the "Sughera" (or Cork-Tree)
The church (Sanctuary) of Our Lady of the "Sughera" was built to enhance and complete the octagonal Chapel built in the early 1500's by Agostino Chigi in memory of a painting depicted on tablets, showing Our Lady with Child, that was miraculously found on All Saints day (1501) by two hunters from Tolfa. In the center of the Chapel one can admire the Tabernacle that holds both a copy of the painting (the original was stolen by the French in 1799) and the tree on which, by tradition, the sacred image is said to have been found.
After various structural changes, the church today appears with a central nave and six altars, three on each side.
Piazza Vittorio Veneto
This large town square (1920-30) has a long balustrade down one side, from which it is possible to admire the stupendous scenery: Starting from left one can admire the hill of the Rocca then, in the valley, it is possible to recognize the locations of the numerous necropolis, the Etruscan and Roman remains, the Castle of Rota and the ruins of the Monteranno Channel. To the end of the square there is the municipal building where, on the ground floor, there is the civic museum, rich with prestigious archeological findings.
Behind the palace there is the growing green garden of the Municipal Villa.
Palace with Tabernacle
At number 61 of Via Annibal Caro, it is possible to admire a building with a façade that has been refined by an aedicule that pictures the Virgin, with a broken ,curved, gable, columns and pillars with leafed capitals.
Above there is a royal crown: all of which in marked baroque style.
At number 30 of Via Roma there is the Buttaoni building with a façade that has no particular architectonic details: However, once through the gate, it is possible to admire a foyer with a courtyard, a niche-like frontal and a triple arched portico, dominated by a low covered terrace.
The palace is the seat of the municipal library.
In via Costa Alta it is possible to admire the Celli Palace which has a façade that is enhanced by a door with coat of arms and framed windows.
Inside the courtyard, in front of the entrance, one can see a large niche.
The Panetti palace is located in Annibal Caro, which houses some of the most important buildings that reflect a period of well-being, and the Panetti palace is proof of this.
The façade has a solemn doorway in ashler-work and is enhanced by large windows: the brick pavement in the main entrance is almost entirely original.
The territory of the municipality of Tolfa is part of that strip of Etruscan Apennines that extend along the pre-Tyrhennian Lazio strip.
Geographically, the town is located 70 km to the North-West of Rome, the province in which it is located, and 20 km North-East of Civitavecchia. The territory of Tolfa has been involved in human settlements ever since back in the Neolithic age; findings in fact, date back to that era, as well as to the bronze age, the iron age, and the ProtoVillanova and Villanova age.
There is a marked presence of Etruscans, as evidenced by the numerous necropolis: these attest to the presence of various inhabited centers that were located, most probably, on three tuff highlands (Pian dei Santi (Plains of Saints), Pian della Conserva (Plains of Preserves), Pian Cisterna (Plains of the Cistern), furthermore, Etruscan tombs have been found in numerous other locations.
The Etruscan civilization was ousted by the Roman civilization which also left many traces.
On the origins of the name "Tolfa" there are two possibilities: the name could derive from the root "TUL", of Etruscan origin, which meant to "raise" and therefore could indicate the altitude referred to its geographical location; or it could originate from the Lombard culture, present in that area from the end of the VI century, in whose onomatology the end sound of "ULFO" is frequently used. The inhabited area of Tolfa extended from the Rocca towards a much wider and definite boundary with the construction of churches with squares and all the facilities required for daily social life and expanding for the most part after the discovery of alum (1460-1462) by Giovanni da Castro.
A few kilometers from Civitavecchia, there is Tolfa Mountains territory formed by a hilly mass that rises for 638 meters and is characterized by a morphology that varies from the different geological origin.
The scenery is moved by numerous ranges mostly covered with coppice or extensive grazing land with wild Maremma cattle farms.
The suggestive towns of Tolfa and Allumiere are situated on the top of these ranges which formed following a series of volcanic eruptions in the Quaternary period. This geological information, apart from providing geological researches with a true "gymnasium" of very accessible studies, have for years been the treasure of these territories. Just think that Allumiere owes its origins and its name to alum, a mineral of world-wide interest during past centuries.
In the area visitors are also attracted by the many ruins of human settlements that go from the prehistoric to the medieval period; amongst these there are also numerous Etruscan remains such as the temple of "Gasceta dei Cavallieri", the necropolis of "Grottini" and the "Pian della Conserva".
: one goes from the lentisk, arbutus berry, cork and holm-oak of the lower levels closer to the sea, to the beech, hornbeam and chestnut trees higher up.
: there are some species, such as the wildcat, the otter, the marten for the mammals and the royal kite amongst the birds, that are in danger of extinction; there is a notable presence however, of wolves, wild bore, various species of rodents, the royal owl and the red breasts.
from Rome, highway A12 Rome-Civitavecchia, S. Severa exit, in the direction of Tolfa.
From Civitavecchia, proceed down the Via delle Terme di Traiano, in the direction of Tolfa.
Tarquinia is situated approximately ten kilometers from Civitavecchia, taking the Aurelia in the direction of Grosseto.
On the basis of its characteristics, this town may be observed from two aspects,: on the one side it presents itself like an ideal locality for the Summer (Lido of Tarquinia); in fact, even if it does not have a very prominent coastline, there are however some noteworthy bathing establishment that characterize the beaches of this town.
These facilities (bathing establishments, camping areas, discotheques, bars, disco-pubs, etc.), which are located on the promenade of Lido of Tarquinia, with their equipment and the innumerable activities they promote (beach-volley tournaments, surfboard rentals, canoeing, nighttime entertainment, etc), place themselves amongst the largest tourist attractions.
The second aspect which is important to emphasize is the enormous cultural and archeological validity which this location possesses: Tarquinia is known to all for its importance as an Etruscan city and for the numerous necropolis inside which are preserves some splendid examples of paintings.
The painted tombs are mostly found inside the necropolis of Montarozzi and are very important since, because of the numerous images which the ancient Etruscans painted on their walls, these have provided enthusiasts with the opportunity to obtain more in depth knowledge of the daily life, art and religious beliefs if these people.
But Tarquinia, with its towers, austere roman Churches, small homes that face alleys and its medieval monuments of notable importance, is also a city where art and medieval culture are deeply rooted.
Upon entering the town, one is in Piazza Cavour where the visitor is immediately impressed by the size of Palazzo Vitelleschi, the seat of the national museum. To the south of the square one takes via Umberto I, and enters the Castro Nuovo area where it is possible to admire, in Piazza Belvedere, the church of S. Antonio, in Roman-gothic style and the church of Santa Lucia.
Still near Via Umberto I, it is possible to admire the church of San Giovanni Battista (XIII century): the coat of arms of the Knights of Malta, located on the central door, is surmounted by a beautiful rose window with a halo of small columns. Taking via della Salute, after turning left in Via Garibaldi, one reaches Piazza Matteotti on the left side of which there is the church of the Suffrage, a splendid example of Roman baroque.
Nearby surges the large Roman style municipal building (XI century) with ample pieces of baroque.
From Piazza Matteotti, following the tree-lined Dante Alighieri, one reaches a lookout situated above the city walls, from where one can enjoy a splendid view of the valley, the hills of Civita and the Necropolis.
Going back one turns to the left down Via di Porta Tarquinia and finds Palazzo Scotti which dates back to the 1700's. The immediate vicinity still maintains a building style of medieval origin, the most characterizing element of which is surely the large complex of S. Francesco (church and convent of the XIII century). Going down Via San Leonardo, in front of the church, another interesting building is the Palazzo called of the Marchese, with a courtyard that dates back to the 1400's. Going down Via Garibaldi, one reaches a very small and suggestive square next to the ex-church of San Pancrazio (XIII century); nearby is the Palazzo dei Priori, obtained by joining various pre-existing buildings. Behind the Municipal Building and the Palazzo dei Prior there is a district that is suggestively rich and important for understanding this medieval city. Here one can admire the church of the Santissima Annunziata (XII-XIII century) with a Roman façade and a portal with Sicilian-Norman motifs.
On Via San Giacomo one should note the small Roman church of the Santissimo Salvatore and that of San Giacomo Apostolo (XII century).
At this point, going back to the Annunziata, one comes to a square dominated by the church of San Martino (one of the most ancient in Tarquinia) and a tall tower.
Returning to Palazzo dei Priori, one follows Via delle Torri where it is possible to view the ruins of two towers and the church of the Holy Spirit that dates back to the 1600's, From here one reaches Piazza Santo Stefano from which it is possible to view, on one stretch of Via delle Torri, the battlement of the Barocci tower, and on the other the tower of the Dragons.
From the square it is possible to view the apsidal area of the Dome, the ancient church of Santa Margherita, of medieval origin, which in 1435 became the Cathedral of Corneto, rebuilt in 1656 and restored in the 1800's.
Following the nearby Via Mazzini, one reaches the Palazzo Vitelleschi; continuing down Via di Porta Castello one reached the most ancient center of Medieval Tarquinia: here rises the tower of the seminary (to the right) and the great double door that opens for the height of one bastion of the medieval city wall.
Past the towers under the doors one reached the church of Santa Maria di Catello, next to which rises a tall tower.
Going back down Via Valverde, towards the San Giusto barrier, one finds the church of Santa Maria di Valverde, remodeled inside in the 1400's.
The Necropolis of Monterozzi
This is the most important Etruscan discovery of all the area; it extends to the south-east of modern day Tarquinia and to the south of the hill where Civita Etrusca used to rise. It houses a vast repertoire of tombs, some of which are worth illustrating for their beauty, fame and importance.
The Tomb of the Lionesses
(530 BC, discovered in 1873): this tomb owes its name to the pair of felines painted, one in front of the other, on the sides of the ledge on the far wall, which shows a large crater around which there are two musicians and two groups of dancers.
The Tomb of the Leopards
(approximately one century more recent than the previous and discovered in 1833): it too is characterized by the admirable portrayal of two animals facing a twig, in the gable of the far wall, completely decorated with a banqueting scene, and three couples lying on beds.
The Tomb of Polyphemus or the Ochre
(composed of various room with two adjacent tombs, then joined, which can be dated back to the second half of the IV century; discovered in 1868): the most ancient, of the Spuria family, it is made up of a large quadrangular room with niches, that could be accessed through a corridor. On the far wall there is the scene of a feast taking place on a scenic background; a short stretch of this wall, to the right of the niche, there is the picture of Caronte; on the side wall, to the right, there is another festive scene where there still only remains the beautiful head of a woman (the famous Fanciulla Velcha) and her husband. Passing through a boxed and carved landscape one enters the second and most recent tomb, where it is possible to admire a famous mythological scene: the blinding of Polyphemus; then, through a mixture of Greek and Etruscan iconography, one recognizes the infernal divinities and various scenes that take place in the underworld.
The Tomb of the Greetings
(530 BC, discovered in 1878): on the back wall there is a fake door with two men on the side, maybe priests, in the act of praying. The right wall is painted with a scene of servants fighting in the presence of a spectator with a red cloak or maybe a referee; after which there is a portrayal of a cruel game called Phersu ("Mask"), where a masked person unleashes a dog and a wolf against a person who is condemned and must defend himself with his head is in a hood.
The Tomb of the Bulls
(540 BC, discovered in 1892): has a structure that is formed like a lobby, at the end of which there is the access to two cells with benches. The space between the two doors shows a picture of Achilles preparing a trap for Toilo. The ornament on top shows erotic scenes and bulls.
The Tomb of the Baron or the Horses (500 BC): on the fare wall, the husband is saying goodbye to the wife in front of two young horsemen; on the left wall the mother separates herself from her children and on the right one of the children is saying goodbye to his brother.
The Queens Altar
: to complete the visit, direct yourself to the ancient Etruscan settlement. By taking state road 1 bis from the necropolis towards Monte Romano and to the left for 7.3 kilometers, one reaches a country road, take this road for one kilometer and a half then, left again, take the road that leads to an old digging site. At this point go to the North-West until you run into the ancient city walls (V-IV century BC). Here there you will find the ruins of the Queen's Altar, the remains of a temple structure of exceptional size (39,25 meters x 25,35) built in the IV century over much older buildings. A large clay sculpture, showing two winged horses, decorated the temple and are now on display in the museum of Palazzo Vitelleschi in Tarquinia.
Anciently known as Tarxuna or Tarxna (probably from the name of the hero Tarconte, it mythical founder). Tarquinia is one of the most ancient cities of the Tuscia. Its existence has been confirmed as far back as the IV century BC, but it surely reached it maximum splendor with the Tarquini dynasty, who reigned over Rome (VIII-VII century BC).
The city, which during the IV century was the dominating center of the entire Etruscan area, falls together with the fall of the Roman Empire, due to malaria and barbaric incursions. The inhabitants therefore move to the nearby hill of the necropolis of Monterozzi, forming a new settlement called Corgnitum (then Corneto), where the medieval city will then rise and where the center of the city of Tarquinia is now located.
The ancient Cognitum rose on a plain called La Civita, divided into two sectors: the first holds the remains of the ancient urban conglomeration, the second, called Ara Della Regina (Queen's Altar), is characterized by the basement of a Temple that dates back to the end of the IV century BC. Here it is possible to admire the Tuscany style medieval urbanization.
During the XIII century Castro Nuovo is added to Civitas di Corneto, made necessary due to the demographic increase.
Between the end of the XII and beginning of the XIII centuries, Corneto reached its maximum economic wellbeing, a higher level of political independence and the highest level of demographic consistency.
In the 1400's the city is introduced to the splendid regality of the Vitelleschi.
In 1436, Cardinal Vitelleschi has the Palazzo Vitelleschi built, situated at a hinging point between Corneto Vecchia and Castro Nuovo. Throughout the 1400's a series of building interventions follow one another, evidence that the Bishops are particularly interested in the town. In 1592 an earthquake causes numerous damages to the structure of the city; and in the 1700's city work is on the rise again.
Lastly, in 1923, with the discovery of the first Etruscan tombs, a mechanism is set off that will shape a new cultural identity for the city.