This area lies mid way between Rome and Tuscany and it boasts both the scenic countryside of the latter and the historical background of the first.
When you drive north from Rome, you immediately enter the area once inhabited by the Etruscans, a fascinating Italic population defeated and then assimilated by the ancient Romans… and as a Roman I have to admit we owe the Etruscan civilisation so much: art and architecture, religion, lifestyle, our alphabet …The Necropolis of Tarquinia has been called “the first chapter in the history of Italian painting” thanks to the frescoed tombs with stunning colours and animated scenes about mythology and everyday life. The archeological museum in Palazzo Vitelleschi contains artefacts from the tombs, some original frescoes and the famous winged horses from the pediment of a temple named “Altar of the Queen”. This fragment was discovered intact in the acropolis of the ancient town of Civita, another possible visit in this area. This museum gives us the chance to explore the medieval town of Tarquinia with its towers, walls, romanesque churches and charming stone houses.
Complete your day trip:
archaeo fans and nature lovers
Vulci, nearby, is both an Etruscan/Roman site and a naturalistic park with intact landscapes, waterfalls, the lake Pellicone and the river Fiora, which is crossed by two ancient bridges and dominated by the castle of the Badia… Here, the famous tomb “François” was discovered (unfortunately its amazing frescoes were detached and are part of the almost secret Albani-Torlonia collection), here still lies the basement of an imposing temple, a mithraeum, a republican house next to the ancient decumanus….
The nearby medieval village of Tuscania is known for its romanesque churches Santa Maria Maggiore and San Pietro, true landmarks of the area. The maze of churches, palaces, arches, alleys and profferlo (an outside staircase with an arcade underneath) makes the historical centre so unique!
A very curious site is the abandoned city of Castro, former capital of the dukedom of the powerful Farnese family, defeated by the Papal State in 1649. A complete destructions followed: three months were needed to raze to the ground the town, and what it’s left now is a grove with some scattered ruins and blocks, fragments of frescoes and a fabled atmosphere.
It is easy to devote a half day to the beach in the summertime, or visit the hot springs near Civitavecchia or Viterbo when it’s cold. You are on holiday, don’t feel guilty if you wish to relax….
active travellers and families
Along the river Fiora during summer it is possible to practice the fun experience of the “river trek”: you descend the river for a couple of miles, walking in the low waters or being transported by the current. After a swim, you hike back across the mysterious grove and hermits’ caves!