Before the rise of Rome the Etruscans dominated much of Italy. At the height of their power and prosperity during the 6th century BC, Etruscan power, influence and ambition rivalled the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians. In their homeland in the Tuscan hills, they built cities, vast cemeteries monumental tombs and a startling abundance of finely crafted objects.
This is a beautiful and rural part of Italy, and we stay in just two hotels: a converted convent, and a 17th century palazzo. Our expert guide introduces hilltop cities, spectacular finds and lavish painted tombs. Life before the Romans: a fascinating alternative view of classical Italy.
- We have secured special access to the Tomb of the Lion and Pellegrina Tomb, beautifully decorated with Etruscan funerary art
- Explore every aspect of Etruscan life and culture from great cities to beautiful artefacts and everyday objects
- Beautiful scenery with sites spread across rolling Tuscan Hills, many of which later developed into charming Medieval towns
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We arrive in Pisa.
We spend our first day in Volterra, located on windswept, dramatic hills. Here we visit the Guarnacci Museum, famed for its cinerary urns carved from the local alabaster. After lunch, we walk through the town viewing Etruscan temple foundations, an Etruscan city gate, the Porta all’Arco, a well-preserved Roman theatre.
Today we explore Vetulonia, an Etruscan city site located on a hilltop with views to the Tyrrhenian Sea. We travel to the little-visited tombs, and see a rare example of Etruscan domestic architecture, before viewing finds from the site in the well-furnished museum. After a picnic lunch we continue to the coastal site of Populonia this afternoon.
We spend the day at Chiusi, the key inland city of northern Etruria. The collections in the excellent museum are drawn from the area, and include finely carved cinerary chests and tomb markers in local sandstone.
This afternoon we have special access to some of the characteristic Etruscan painted tombs including the Tomb of the Lion and the Pellegrina Tomb. The interiors of both are vividly decorated with scenes of animals and humans.
We visit Veii this morning. The site was at the southern limit of Etruscan territory, and Rome’s first Etruscan conquest. We explore the remains of the Portonaccio Temple, dedicated to Apollo. This afternoon, we visit the Villa Giulia Museum in Rome, which houses one of the world’s best collections of Etruscan art and artefacts including the masterpiece Apollo of Veii from Portonaccio Temple.
We visit Tarquinia to see the archaeological museum and exquisitely painted subterranean chamber tombs. The museum has a fine collection of grave goods, including the remarkable terracotta winged horses from the Ara della Regina Temple. Over 6000 tombs have been discovered at the Monterozzi cemetery, which we visit next, making this one of the largest burial grounds of the ancient world. We see a selection, with depictions of banquets and funerary games.
Today we have an opportunity to explore Orvieto, which the Etruscans presumably established because of the excellent defensive opportunities offered by the spectacular volcanic citadel. There is much to see in the town including two archaeological museums, ‘underground Orvieto’, and the magnificent Renaissance cathedral. After lunch we visit the Belvedere Temple Podium, and the small Etruscan cemetery of Crocifisso del Tufo, where family names are carved above the entrance to each tomb.
Our tour culminates at the remarkable Banditaccia cemetery at Cerveteri, a truly extraordinary Etruscan site. This is a real ‘city of the dead’ with rock-cut tombs under tumuli or arranged in rows along streets. Many interiors are carved to imitate houses and temples. One tomb even has painted relief depictions of armour, household goods, furniture, and the family dog. Transfer to Rome airport for our flight home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
3 nights located in the centre of Volterra
4 nights in a hotel which is formed from a tangle of old houses, a convent, a former palazzo and it’s stables, making up an atmospheric complex dating from the 1600s
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