Tarquinia, is an ancient city in the province of Viterbo. Starting from Rome and following Via Aurelia we will arrive in this important etruscan city after 97 Km.
The modern-day town ofTarquinia, rich in medieval monuments, is in the northern part of Lazio. It’s one of the largest collections of Etruscan archaeological finds belongs to theNationalMuseum. Guided tours of the painted tombs in the necropolises near the town also leave from the museum. The finds on display in the museum include: the sarcophagi; the burial treasures found in the nearby necropolises, vases of all types and origins, decorations belonging to the Ara Reginae temple and a number of painted tombs, moved here to save them from destruction.The ancient city of Tarquinia (TarXna in Etruscan) stood on the La Civita hill, close to the modern city. Very little remains of the urban fabric of the city: the remains of the solid walls of the 4th century BC, made of square blocks of limestone and about five miles long, and the remains of a temple of the first half of the 4th century BC known as Ara Reginae. The importance of Tarquinia is shown by the legend according to which the city was founded by Tarchon, the companion of the mythical hero Tyrrhenus, the ancestor of the Etruscans. Until the beginning of the 6th century BC, the city was a centre of secondary importance. From then onwards, thanks to the intensification of trading contacts withGreece, it grew in importance until it became one of the main cities of the Etruscan league in the 4th century BC. Between the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, Tarquinia, at the height of its power, came into conflict on several occasions withRome.
The rural landscape ofEtruriawhere is Tarquina is characterized by a succession of hilly areas covered by thick woods, rich in water. In the southern part, alongside the hills there are also lakes of volcanic origin surrounded by mountainous areas. The distribution of the territory was at the basis of the birth of the Etruscan people: the borders of property were considered sacred and inviolable, and accurately marked by stone blocks. The first agricultural activities were the cultivation of wheat, barley, millet, broad beans and lentils. The territory, with abundant grazing land, was also suitable for livestock raising: the commonest species were cows, pigs and sheep, to provide food and work and horses, used for transport and in battle.
Tipical products of this area are honey, wine, extra-virgin oil, vegetables canned in extra-virgin oil,
canned fruit and vegetable pates.
Places to visit in Tarquinia are:
- The Etruscan necropolises, with some 6,000 tombs, 200 of which include wall paintings. The main site is the Necropolis of Monterozzi, with a large number of tumulus tombs with chambers carved in the rock. The scenes painted include erotical and magic depictions, landscapes, dances and music. There are also carved sarcophagi, some dating to the Hellenistic period. Main tombs included the Tomba della Fustigazione and the Tomb of the Leopards.
- Remains of the Ara della Regina (“Altar of the Queen”) temple, measuring c. 44 x 25 m and dating to c. 4th-3rd century BC. IT was built in tuff with wooden structures and decorations. Also traces of the Etruscan walls (c. 8th century BC) exist: they had a length of some8 km.
- The National Museum, with a large collection of archaeological findings. It is housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Vitelleschi, begun in 1436 and completed around 1480-1490
- Church of Santa Maria di Castello (1121–1208), with Lombard and Cosmatesque influences. The façade has a small bell-tower and three entrances. The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by massive pilasters with palaeo-Christian capitals and friezes. Noteworthy are also the rose-window in the nave and the several marble works by Roman masters.
- The Cathedral, once in Romanesque-Gothic style but rebuilt after the 1643 fire, has maintained from the original edifice the 16th century frescoes in presbitery, by Antonio del Massaro.
- Churchof San Giacomo and Santissima Annunziata, showing different Arab and Byzantine influences.
- The Communal Palace, in Romanesque style, begun in the 13th century and restored in the 16th.
- The numerous medieval towers, including that of Dante Alighieri.
- The Palazzo dei Priori. The façade, remade in Baroque times, has a massive external staircase. The interior has a fresco cycle from 1429.
Suggested accommodation for this area: TARQUINIA ROOMS