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Vulci - city of the ancient Etruscans and Etruria

Vulci: Great city of the ancient Etruscans and Etruria

Watercolour sketch of Vulci castle. Vulci: city of the ancient Etruscans and EtruriaThe Etruscan city of Vulci is on the border between Tuscany and Latium. Rome is about an hour and a half's drive to the South along the coast whilst Florence is two hours to the north. Vulci lies approximately 14 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean coast at Montalto di Castro (worth a visit).

Much of what can be seen are relatively interesting Roman remains although there is a fair amount of the Etruscan period such as parts of the city walls including three of the five city gates. The Etruscan period constructions are made of large blocks of tufa rock, for example in the remains of the "great temple" which dates back to the fourth century BC.

As well as a variety of Roman remains dating largely to the 2nd century AD there is a Mithraeum - a temple to the divinity Mithras whose religion competed head to head with Christianity in terms of popularity and importance.

Of particular note are a number of burial grounds outside the city perimeter dating back to around the 7th century BC. Some of these can be visited (don't take my word for it though). A couple are particularly interesting for their architecture and artwork.

The Last Couple of Centuries

Until recently Vulci was but a memory set in a marshy farmland riddled with malaria and bandits. When British travelers of the last century visited the area they saw very little of what is to be seen in museums around the world today coming from this very area. The area is know for its cattle farming and horse riders called "Butteri".

An aqueduct used to run over the top of the bridge but has long since collapsed although parts of it can still be seen further along the way. What is interesting is that some stalactites can still be seen hanging off part of the bridge - testimony of the centuries during which water dripped from the aqueduct onto the bridge below! You can just see them if you click on the painting below.

It is said that more ancient Greek pottery has been found at Vulci than in Greece which alone says much about the greatness and wealth this city of ancient Etruria reached during its apogee.

Then there are stories of how in the 19th century, Napoleon's brother, who dominated this area became a treasure hunter. In fact it was his wife. Whatever the truth, it would appear that much "invaluable" pottery was dug and destroyed by henchmen so as to render the remaining (with figure paintings) even more valuable on the antiques market.

Of particular note is the black and shiny Bucchero clay which enabled a finish unlike any other known to the ancients. It was much prized for its metallic finish and quality.

Painting of Vulci castle and its ancient etruscan bridge. The castle acted as a toll point along the river.You may visit the medieval castle which for long acted as toll point along the once navigable Fiora river. The castle contains an extremely interesting Etruscan collection coming from the nearby archeological digs (which you can also visit) although almost all the major pieces are now to be seen at the Villa Giulia museum in Rome as well as the Metropolitan in NY, the British Museum in London and a few more to boot.

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