Some of the finest things we love about Italy were actually Etruscan; wine, olive oil, fashion and even gladiators. The Etruscans were the peninsula’s first aristocratic class before the Romans and their origins are unknown. Some theories assert they emigrated from Asia Minor and other scholars claim they were native to the land we now call Tuscany which was the heart of their settlement area. As such, several of the most important Etruscan sites in Italy are easily accessible from our villas in Tuscany, Umbria and Rome. It is no coincidence that modern visitors want to live like the ancient Etruscan nobility!
Tarquinia is the birthplace of Rome’s early kings and is the site of the oldest testimony to fresco painting in Italy. A visit to the necropolis reveals the prestige of the pre-Romans reflected in their tomb architecture and decoration. At the necropolis you can find more than 200 brightly painted underground tombs dating as far back as 600 B.C. The medieval town also houses a Renaissance palace showcasing fine examples of Etruscan art from temples and tombs.
The largest necropolis of the Mediterranean, Cerveteri is home to thousands of Egyptian-style canonical shaped tombs that were built to mimic the homes of the wealthiest Etruscans. Excavations have yielded thousands of grave goods including fine jewelry, mirrors, weapons and even food remnants. A new digital reconstruction broadcast inside the tombs brings the dead to life!
In addition to the city’s stunning cathedral that is the product of many famous Renaissance hands, Orvieto’s unique underground tunnel system makes it a destination not to miss. On a covert tour you can visit more than one thousand underground tunnels, wells, staircases, cellars and tombs. And since the Etruscans were the first civilization to introduce grape cultivation in the area you may want to take a tour to understand ancient Etruscan wine making techniques. Or perhaps just sit back enjoy a glass of the region’s noteworthy white wine, Orvieto Classico DOC, while overlooking the Umbrian landscape from either of the inspiring Villa Vita or Castello Della Staffa ,reminiscing about what was once an Etruscan acropolis.
A perfect day trip Florence, Fiesole offers cooling breezes and stunning landscapes, features which have made it a getaway for the upper classes since the 14th century. It is one of the best places in which to enjoy sweeping views of the Brunelleschi’s dome and the entire Renaissance city of Florence in the valley below. Settled as early as the 9th century B.C. the city retains Etruscan walls, Roman baths and a well preserved Roman theater. Enjoy and end of day snack at Villa delle Colline , in Tuscany and share stories about what is sure to be a memorable day.
Surrounded by Etruscan stone walls dating back to the 5th Century B.C. and perched on a hill overlooking Lake Trasimeno the city of Cortona is considered the cultural and artistic center of the Chiana Valley. Don’t miss the Etruscan Academy Museum (MAEC) filled with artifacts excavated from Etruscan tombs and Roman villas that provide great insight into the day to day life and habits of the mysterious pre-Roman civilization. As a change from the charming medieval alleys and Renaissance churches in the town check out the archaeological park just outside the city walls to see chamber tombs and remnants of the Etruscan and Roman settlements of Cortona. Casa Passerini , in Tuscany is a short walk from Cortona and provides an ideal base to immerse yourself in the same opulent surroundings as the ancient Etruscan kings.