Lake Bolsena - Jewel in the Heart of Italy

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Step back 2500 Years

Places to See

Welcome to Etruria, home of the Etruscans.

Never heard of them? Well imagine a civilisation that existed from the 8th Century BC up until Roman times. Rome itself was ruled by Etruscan kings, but the dynasty was overthrown when Rome became a republic.

The Etruscans had strong affiliations with the Greeks and much of their culture reflected that influence. They were a highly cultured people but had their quirks, being liberated sexually and more than a little obsessed with death.

You can witness their preoccupation with the afterlife yourself by exploring some of the ancient burial sites at Tarquinia and Vulci, some of which have highly evocative wall murals.

"The Orator" - A second century BCE life-size representation of Aulus Metellus, magistrate and Master of the Etruscan Language. The inscription (below) on the statue is in Etruscan. and reads AULE-SHI METELI-SH VE VESIAL CLENSHI CEN FLERESH TECESAN-SHL TENINE TUTHINESH XISVLICSH", which means something like:"For Aulus Metellus, son of Vel and Vesia. Statue dedicated in recognition of his service to the public".

Click on this picture and the one below to learn more about the Etruscans.

There is a network of Museums that contain collections of the artefacts uncovered from local excavations. Visit the local tourist office for details.

As is so often the case, the British Museum also has a superb collection.... Moving on.

According to legend, the Etruscan League of 12 cities was founded by two Lydian noblemen; Tarchun and his brother Tyrrhenus.

Tarchun lent his name to the city of Tarchna, or Roman Tarquinnii. Tyrrhenus gave his name to the Tyrrhenians - the alternative name for the Etruscans.

Although there is no total consensus on which cities were in the league, Bolsena is probably one of them, being named Velzna (Volsinii or modern day Bolsena), along with other local cities such as Velch (Vulci or modern day Volci), Caisra (Caere or modern Cerveteri), and of course Tarchna (Tarquinii or modern Tarquinia-Corneto).

While there is little left of the Etruscans apart from the ruins above the old town of Bolsena (thank the Romans), there are absolutely splendid sites at Tarquinia and Vulci, so memorably chronicled by D.H. Lawrence in his essays "Sketches of Etruscan Places".

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