A.G.Tur. Tourist Guides Association of Viterbo and Rome and Group Leaders
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Etruscans and Romans
VULCI (Montalto di Castro)
The origin of Vulci goes back to the late Iron Age (8th century BC). Conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, Vulci was definitely abandoned after the end of the Roman Empire (5th century AD). It was one of the largest Etruscan towns in southern Etruria. Situated on a wide plateau called Pian de Voci, the town covered some 300 acres of land. Vulci’s prosperity was mainly due to its geographical position. In fact, the city was located in the river Fiora valley, about ten miles from the sea. Vulci soon became one of the most powerful cities in Etruria; between the 7th and the 6th centuries BC, the centre reached the height of its power. Many bronzes, gold objects and thousands of Greek vases were found in the necropolises near the city. It is said that Prince Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, unearthed more than 2,000 Attic vases from 5 acres of land in the 19th century. Vulci’s territory stretched for many miles to Cosa and Mount Argentario in the north, and to lake Bolsena in the east. About 15,000 people lived in the town at that time. After a period of crisis (5th century BC) following the defeat of the Etruscan fleet near Cuma (474 BC), Vulci’s ancient glory revived in the Hellenic age (late 4th century BC), as some rich family tombs found at the Necropolis of Ponte Rotto show. Among them, the François Tomb (4th century BC) deserves a special mention. This family tomb contained some frescoes representing episodes of the Trojan cycle, old Etruscan legends and the heroic deeds of Mastarna, a local hero. Now the paintings are kept at Villa Albani (Torlonia collection), Rome. Nowadays, the most interesting sights are located in the area of the ancient town (Parco Archeologico di Vulci). There you can see the remains of an Etruscan wall, the foundations of a big temple dated from the 4th century BC and the old forum with the ruins of some Roman public buildings (2nd century BC). Anyway, the remains of a Roman villa (Villa of Criptoportico) are especially noteworthy. Situated in the main street (decumanus maximus), the Villa was built around the 2nd century BC. It had several rooms, a Roman bath, an atrium, some warehouses and a criptoportico (subterranean passage). Near the entrance to the criptoportico there is also a mithraeum (a place where the Persian god Mithras was worshipped). The Villa was used until the fall of the Roman Empire. If you love trekking, there is the possibility to make exciting excursions in the park. In fact, the archaeological site is located in a beautiful area with green meadows, deep gorges and a small natural lake (Pelicone). On one side of the river Fiora stands the Abbadia Castle, a medieval construction built over the remains of an ancient Benedictine abbey – hence its name. Enlarged by the Farnese family in the 16th century, the castle houses a very interesting Etruscan museum with several objects including vases, statues, buccheri and funerary urns found in the Vulci area. Near the castle there is also an impressive Roman bridge (Ponte dell’Abbadia). Built in the 2nd century BC, the bridge spans the river Fiora. It was restored in the Middle Ages, and an aqueduct was built on one of his arches. From the bridge, you can take a breathtaking view over a deep ravine.
Testo:A.G.Tur. di Viterbo
dati e immagini Amm.ne Prov. & APT di Viterbo