Cerveteri is a town not far from Rome, which was sometimes opposed at times linked in the course of its history. Through the necropolis we can be aware of the glorious past of the city. The Necropolis of the Banditaccia is a complex of Etruscan tombs, where wonderful finds were discovered, including the Sarcophagus of the Spouses, today kept in the National Etruscan Museum housed in Villa Giulia in Rome.
We start our tour right from the Necropolis of the Banditaccia, which since 2004 has been declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 20.000 tombs dating to the 7th till the 1st century BC. Thanks to the different methods of building the tombs we have the chance to know the structure of the Etruscan people houses and the arrangement of the tumuli in a grid of streets gives it an appearance similar to the cities of the living.
After the necropolis we head to the National Cerite Museum, housed in the Ruspoli Castle to admire the wonderful find discovered during the excavation in the necropolis: bucchero (the signature ceramic fabric of the Etruscans), funerary vases and sarcophagus lids.
After lunch we visit Ceri, a village founded by the inhabitants of Cerveteri around the 11th century to look for a safer place to escape malaria. Some of the most powerful Roman families followed one another in the government of the village, and the Palazzo Signorile was built at the behest of the Orsini dell’Anguillara family. Its structure underwent various reworks over the centuries and in 1883 its current appearance, with a beautiful garden, is due to Alexander Torlonia.
We head back to Cerveteri for dinner.
On the second day, if weather conditions permit, we make an excursion to the Castel Giuliano Waterfall, otherwise we visit the village Castel Giuliano. In the first case we walk in the quiet of the nature along paths and road dug into the tuff (used both for processions and as communication routes) to find ancient ironworks and lakes; in the second case we visit the village Castel Giuliano, inhabited fro Etruscans to Romans, whose traces have survived to the present day. The main building is Palazzo Patrizi completed during the 18th century, and if you love roses, the Castel Giuliano Park boasts a wonderful collection with different types of roses and every May it hosts the Feast of the Roses.
After lunch we head toward the coast to visit the Castle of Santa Severa. This town was already inhabited in the Bronze Age, then hosted Pyrgi, the main port of Cerveteri, founded by the Etruscans up to the Romans, wo built the Cyclopean walls still partially preserves. The village owes its name to Santa Severa who was martyred here during the 2nd century AD. It is more than certain that in the 14th century the castle was built on the top of the remains of an ancient Roman castrum, to be, between the 16th and 17th century, a place of rest and stay of several popes and used by the Germans as a strategic military stationing during the Second World War.
Then we head north and arrive in Tolfa. This town inhabited from Etruscans to Romans, who took their place, is a maze of alleys and squares. We check-in in the preferred accommodation and in the evening we have dinner in one of the typical restaurants.
The third day, after breakfast, we make an excursion on the Tolfa Mountains, from where you can enjoy the stunning view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We spend the morning walking among the mastic trees and oaks and in the afternoon we visit the village of Tolfa. Its highest point is Rocca Frangipane, a medieval castle and control tower, which in 1798 resisted the attacks of the Napoleonic army. In the town we find several palaces built during the Renaissance period, some of which have a inner court and a cistern to collect rainwater.
Walking along the streets of Tolfa you will see an object almost in every shop windows, it is a bag that made Tolfa very well known since last millennium. The “catana” is a shoulder bag with a large central pocket closed by a metal buckle, used by farmers, cowboys, knights, merchants and pilgrims for its practicality and for its resistance to different weather conditions thanks to the strength of the Italian leather. It is uncertain the origin of its name, but undoubtedly it is the trademark typical of the area of Tolfa and Maremma. Here, in Tolfa, you will have the opportunity to buy a product of Made in Italy you’ll never regret!
The morning of the fourth day we go to the Natural Reserve “Le Saline” of Tarquinia, a naturalistic site of extreme importance cause of the presence of pink flamingos and other species of resident and migratory birds, fish, crustaceans and plants. The site was populated from Etruscans to Romans, abandoned during the Middle Ages and rediscovered by the Papal State following the dismissal of the Saline of Ostia. In 1980 it became a Stocking Nature Reserve and since 1997 salt extraction ceased. At the end of the 19th century a little village with an eclectic style was built to accommodate employees, the factory and the salt storage.
We head towards Tarquinia and we stop at the site of the Ara della Regina (Altar of the Queen), a temple dated to 4th-3rd century BC, perhaps devoted to the goddess Diana. Today we can see only the base, instead in the Tarquinia National Museum, housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Vitelleschi, a relief of a pair of winged horses is exhibited, a terracotta slab that was on the temple pediment and the first floor shows the native Etruscan type of pottery called bucchero.
The Palazzo Vitelleschi was built between 1436 and 1439 and has Gothic elements (pairs of mullioned and three light windows) and Renaissance elements (a portal surmounted by a triangular tympanum, where stands the coat of arms of the family). Here are exhibited the sarcophagi of the most important Tarquinian families from the middle of the 4th century BC and frescoes detached from painted tombs.
After leaving the Altar of the Queen we stop at the Necropolis of Tarquinia. Here we can admire the largest collection of Etruscan frescoes that has come down to us. Together with the Necropolis of Cerveteri in 2004 the site was designed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tour will end here, where you are free to choose whether head back to the starting place or carry on with another tour.
This tour wants to show the wonders of some towns, where they are recognizable, even today, the traces left by the Etruscans and the Romans. There will be moments to spend in contact with nature.
09:00 Cerveteri, necropolis
13:00 Lunch and visit of the town
18:00 Ceri, visit of the village
09:00 Excursion to the Castel Giuliano Waterfall or to town Castel Giuliano
14:30 Visit of the Castle of Santa Severa
17:00 Tolfa, check-in
09:00 Excursion on the Tolfa Mountains
16:00 Tolfa, walk in the city
09:00 Natural Reserve “Le Saline” of Tarquinia
11:30 Visit of the Altar of the Queen
14:30 Necropolis of Tarquinia
17:00 Tarquinia, National Museum