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Learn about the ancient Etruscans at the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, arguably the most important collection of ancient art about the Etruscans and ancient Italic cultures. Join Archaeologist Darius Arya of #ancientromelive (romanculture.org) for an exclusive look at the people who influenced ancient Rome before its rise to power. You will see some of the most famous works from the collection including terracotta sculptures, vases, tombs, and temple decorations, with the stories behind them to bring the Etruscans back to life!
The Villa Giulia is a villa in Rome, Italy. It was built by Pope Julius III in 1551–1553 on what was then the edge of the city. Today it is publicly owned, and houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco, a collection of Etruscan art and artifacts.
Villa Giulia the Etruscan museum
Villa Giulia in Rome is considered the most representative museum of the Etruscan civilization.
The italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities has established as many as 10 new cultural places of significant national interest and among them stands the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, which starting from 1 September 2016 it is configured as a special autonomous institute, no longer dependent on the Museums of the Lazio region.
Following the international public selection, the office of director of the museum of relevant national interest is conferred to Valentino Nizzo.
We meet and interview the director Valentino Nizzo, author of several publications on subjects related to the protection, management and enhancement of cultural heritage.
Valentino Nizzo, Archaeologist, is the director of the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia. Young and brilliant in 2000 he graduated with honors in classical literature at the Sapienza University of Rome, where he later specialized in archeology. Since 2010 he has been an archaeologist official at the Archaeological Superintendency of Emilia Romagna. PhD in Before joining the Mibac, he had several experiences in the field so much that he has many excavation and archaeological reconnaissance activities in his curriculum.
Valentino Nizzo (direttore museo etrusco di Villa Giulia) e Silvio de Pecher (Giornalista)
The fake news is presented in a strange and devious way: the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Anunnaki, the Egyptians, the Vikings all of them have their ancient alien that helped them while strangely not for the Etruscan civilization.
The Etruscans actually have in their history, precisely in their genetics, a mystery that resurfaces many times over time from antiquity to the present. Perhaps, for this reason, they did not need contact with alien civilizations because they seemed, since ancient times, themselves aliens for a reason, apparently simple, which is the basis of the so-called Etruscan Mystery but which caught the attention of all: the fact of speaking a language impossible to codify with respect to the languages known in the past, the Indo-European or the Semitic ones, therefore starting from the language the origin of the Etruscans appeared immediately abnormal and this issue is also added to the problem of their appearance, of their society that appeared to Herodotus, in his time, particularly oriental enough to generate the idea of the origin of one of their diaspora from the east. In reality the Etruscans were able to hybridize assimilating other cultures such as the Greek and the East, including Egypt, and in this sense to give a deviated idea of their origin in a cultural context in which it was easy to think that a people could move into mass from one region to another. So yes there is still an Etruscan mystery still but it is not connected to those other mysteries with which we usually confront ourselves because there are simply no Etruscan pyramids or large buildings that have astounded, in reality an Etruscan pyramid would be there in Bomarzo but little comes quoted …
What can be the future of the museum as a center for the community, both on a strictly cultural level but also simply as a gathering point?
The museum must be first and foremost a home and as such must be perceived by those around it, so it lives in its vicinity, in this direction we have been working since the beginning of my mandate in May 2017 by actively pursuing the principles of the Convention of I am the framework convention on the value of cultural heritage for society. It seems an abstract concept but we have understood it directly in the mission of the Institute and it is realized with apparently simple initiatives: the establishment of a subscription that has created a community of people that can come whenever it wants in the museum during the duration of the subscription by participating in exclusive initiatives, dedicated only to our subscribers, as well as other opportunities that are reserved to them as the opening of unique spaces such as the Sala dello Zodiaco or also through other initiatives such as those we have destined for neighborhood shopkeepers, we have invited them here in a visit dedicated to them free of charge made by me, which makes them, I hope more and more, and will make them, ambassadors of this museum or with different expressions of interest, this year we are at the second that allow third sector associations to propose initiatives consistent with the mission of the institute in exchange for the possibility of using our facilities for free spaces. This is a healthy relationship with the citizens and collaboration with the voluntary realities which is also healthy and which responds to the principles for which these realities are born is a way of aggregating not necessarily telling only the Etruscans but all that a museum can represent in the society that goes sometimes well beyond its content and its container, which in our case are extraordinary. A museum must be a place of active reflection on contemporary society on its problems, its aspirations and in this sense it must be a civic engine. This we are doing and the results are seen and fortunately we are recognized. The last thing we did in this direction was simply to launch a hashtag # sipuòFaro to make sure Parliament finally decides to ratify the Faro Convention.
Villa Giulia as a museum 2.0?
We say yes we try to do even more we will have to try to focus, even if the definition is a bit uncertain, towards a 3.0 in 4.0, which does not mean simply accepting new technologies in the internal and external narration of the museum. it also passes through the use of people who can “recall” past times and therefore historical re-enactment living history and museum theater are some of the naturally occasional events that we try to host hoping to make this type of experience more and more stable. Let’s call it a 4.0 museum, it simply needs to be open to all types of public. MI RASNA means “I am Etruscan” and it is the idea of free videogames, we have provided images behind a symbolic fee, we have especially provided scientific advice to improve the videogame experience and in this way we have allowed, together with many other museums involved in Mr. Amoroso, the realization of something that has no precedent in the first place because it involved so many different realities both of the ministry and civil society, secondly because this is a video game that , certainly it rewards those who guess some quizzes with credits, also induces players to go and see the places of culture live, obtaining credits that are then reinvested in the gaming experience this makes it possible to grow in managing a city of the Etruscans you can cross the different eras of Etruscan history by learning in a fun way how much a museum seeks to consider sometimes more seriously. But the key is this: the key is to have on one side an entrepreneur who invests in a project that must have its own sustainability and therefore I emphasize this we have not funded in any way the videogame indeed we have obtained a fee and in the second place thanks to this sustainability makes the project grow reinvesting on the museum because we will host an event financed by Amoroso on June 2nd with historical re-enactments and competitions linked to the videogames Mi Rasna called “Io sono etrusco” because it’s a way to feel a bit of more Etruscan.
Why? I tell you to close a museum must be an experience …
National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
The National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia is a museum in Rome dedicated to the Etruscan and Faliscan civilization, housed since the beginning of the 20th century at Villa Giulia. (Wikipedia)
Address: Piazzale di Villa Giulia 9, 00196 Rome RM
Opening date: 1889
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Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia (National Etruscan Museum)Our Rating Hours Tues–Sun 8:30am–7:30pm Transportation Bus: 926/Tram: 3, 19 Phone 06-3226571 Prices Admission 8€ Web site Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia (National Etruscan Museum)
The great Etruscan civilization (which gave its name to Tuscany) was one of Italy’s most advanced, although it remains relatively mysterious, in part because of its centuries-long rivalry with Rome. Once Rome had absorbed the Etruscans in the 3rd century b.c., it set about eradicating all evidence of their achievements, as it did with most of the peoples it conquered.
Today this museum, housed in the handsome Renaissance Villa Giulia, built by Pope Julius III between 1550 and 1555, is the best place in Italy to familiarize with the Etruscans, thanks to a cache of precious artifacts, sculptures, vases, monuments, tools, weapons, and jewels. Fans of ancient history could spend several hours here, but for those with less time, here’s a quick list of the unmissable sights. The most striking attraction is the stunning Sarcofago degli Sposi (Sarcophagus of the Spouses) ★★, a late-6th-century b.c. terra-cotta funerary monument featuring a life-size bride and groom, supposedly lounging at a banquet in the afterlife—there’s a similar monument in the Louvre, Paris. Equally fascinating are the Pyrgi Tablets, gold-leaf inscriptions in both Etruscan and Phoenician from the 5th century b.c., and the Apollo of Veii, a huge painted terra-cotta statue of Apollo dating to the 6th century b.c. The Euphronios Krater is also conserved here, a renowned and perfectly maintained red-figured Greek vase from the 6th century b.c. which returned to Italy from the New York Met after a long legal battle won in 2006.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
Castel Sant'Angelo National Museum
With its dominant presence looming over the Tiber River, it's hard not to marvel at the immense landmark, Castel Sant'Angelo. The castle was originally built to serve as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian but in the 6th century, was turned into a papal fortress. Thanks to secret passage ways (as featured in the blockbuster hit Angels and Demons), popes were able to escape from danger to various palaces within the Vatican. Today, the castle has a museum where visitors can keep themselves entertained by the trap doors, ditches, draw bridges, dungeons, weapons and papal apartments. The castle also has a lovely terrace offering spectacular views of the Roman city skyline. BUS: 80, 87, 280, 492. METRO: Lepanto
Recommended for Family-Friendly Museums because: This castle was once the tallest building in Rome and used as a fortress and castle for the Popes. Not just any museum sits in an old castle and this one is special with a terrace that overlooks the city.
Maria's expert tip: During the summer, the city of Rome often organizes outdoor events and concerts on the terrace of the castle.
&lsquoBut who wants object-lessons about vanished races? What one wants is contact. The Etruscans are not a theory or a thesis. If they are anything, they are an experience.&rsquo It was just such an experience that led D.H. Lawrence (1885&ndash1930) to write Etruscan Places, his perceptive travel account of Etruscan art and civilisation which was first published posthumously in 1932. Lawrence had previously written memorably about his travels in Italy (in Twilight in Italy, 1916, and Sea and Sardinia, 1921) and Mexico (in Mornings in Mexico, 1927) and many of his voyages during the last 10 years of his life &ndash to Ceylon, Australia, Mexico, New Mexico, and the South of France &ndash directly influenced his novels and poems. But Etruscan Places remains one of the most haunting of Lawrence&rsquos travel books and one in which the art of this lost civilisation vibrantly comes to life. Exactly 90 years after Lawrence visited, I travelled to Etruria to follow in his footsteps and, with a first edition of the book in hand, set out to look at Etruscan art and architecture through the lens of his writing. Over five days, in April 2017, I visited every central Italian site described in Etruscan Places, considering how Lawrence&rsquos views and interpretations can still inform a visit to today&rsquos archaeological locations, and shed light on Etruscan art.
D.H. Lawrence beneath an olive tree at Villa Mirenda, San Polo Mosciano, c. 1926&ndash27. Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham
In 1926, D.H. Lawrence moved to Villa Mirenda, near San Polo Mosciano on the outskirts of Florence. He had travelled extensively outside Europe between 1922 and 1925, and now took refuge in Tuscany, together with his wife Frieda, with whom he had shared an unconventional and tumultuous relationship since 1912. Between 1926 and 1928, Lawrence was at work on Lady Chatterley&rsquos Lover, and in April 1927, between the second and third (and final) version of the manuscript, he set out to visit a number of Etruscan sites together with the American painter Earl Brewster (1878&ndash1957). The trip provided the material for a series of six essays, which were subsequently transformed by Lawrence&rsquos London publisher, Martin Secker, into a book printed two years after Lawrence&rsquos death. Lawrence was a pioneer when it came to the topic. Etruscan art had been little studied in England, and throughout the trip, Lawrence&rsquos guide was George Dennis&rsquos Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, first published in two volumes in 1848, a book that he had read years before and that he often refers to. Like Lawrence&rsquos essays, Dennis&rsquos book focused on both the archaeology of the sites and the present state of each location, and so acted as both scholarly account and guidebook.
Among the most notable features of Lawrence&rsquos book is his constant juxtaposition of the Etruscans and the Romans. The book opens with a polemical statement: &lsquoThe Etruscans, as everyone knows, were the people who occupied the middle of Italy in early Roman days, and whom the Romans, in their usual neighbourly fashion, wiped out entirely in order to make room for Rome with a very big R.&rsquo Educated in Victorian England, where the neoclassical ideals of Winckelmann had defined the taste for Graeco-Roman antiquities for more than a century, Lawrence saw in the Etruscans a sense of freedom and brilliance that he contrasted with the Roman desire for conquest. Etruscan art became for him the yardstick against which to measure the art of the past and of the present. Giotto and medieval Italian sculptors &lsquoseem to have been a flowering again of the Etruscan blood&rsquo, while &lsquoone Etruscan leopard, even one little quail, is worth all the miles of&rsquo John Singer Sargent, who Lawrence somewhat unfairly, but true to his own taste, describes as &lsquoutterly uninteresting, a bore&rsquo. In 1927, Italy was already beneath the yoke of Mussolini&rsquos Fascist regime, and Lawrence&rsquos view of ancient Rome is clearly a thinly veiled parallel with the state of contemporary Italy. The debilitating effects of the First World War on the Italian population appear throughout the book, and Fascism remains a potent presence. Lawrence reports how, in Civitavecchia, a man insistently asked him, as a foreigner, for his passport, which maddened the writer and in the centre of Volterra large posters inscribed &lsquoMussolini ha sempre ragione&rsquo were pasted in the streets. Throughout the trip Lawrence was often welcomed with a Roman salute: &lsquoWhy don&rsquot they discover the Etruscan salute, and salute us all&rsquoetrusca!&rsquo
By 1927, Lawrence knew he was dying. The last five years of his life, from 1925 until his death in 1930, were marked by the onset and quick advance of tuberculosis. Though only in his early 40s, Lawrence had a dying man&rsquos grasp of life, with a morbid interest in the malaria that was then affecting large areas of the Maremma in the midst of the Fascist reclamation which had seen the area develop into a holiday centre for affluent Italians. Lawrence&rsquos awareness of mortality pervades the book: &lsquoIn the tombs we see it throes of wonder and vivid feeling throbbing over death. Man moves naked and glowing through the universe. Then comes death: he dives into the sea, he departs into the underworld.&rsquo Lawrence abandoned himself to rhapsodical descriptions of the vitality of the Etruscan universe: &lsquoTo the Etruscan, all was alive: the whole universe lived: and the business of man was himself to live amid it all. He had to draw life into himself, out of the wandering huge vitalities of the world.&rsquo Many pages follow a mystical vision of the great soul of the cosmos, making the Etruscans into a model for the modern ideal man as Lawrence imagined him.
Lawrence&rsquos descriptions of the Italian landscape are lyrical. He travelled across northern Lazio and the Maremma, &lsquoone of the most abandoned, wildest parts of Italy&rsquo, recounting his interaction with local inhabitants. He paid meticulous attention to the wild flowers at each site &ndash particularly the &lsquopink and rather spasmodic&rsquo asphodel, which for him epitomised the &lsquoreckless glory&rsquo of ancient Greece. While, 90 years on, I found the asphodels already withered by the end of April, I recognised most of Lawrence&rsquos wild flowers. More dramatically, I was subjected to the same meteorological vagaries that he experienced: a &lsquosunny April morning&rsquo in Cerveteri the wind blowing &lsquostiffer and stiffer&rsquo in Tarquinia &lsquogloomy&rsquo Vulci and &lsquocold, almost icy&rsquo Volterra. Other things have changed, of course: almost a century later, accommodation and food in all the locations has invariably improved, and the small towns that Lawrence describes &ndash Palo, Ladispoli, and Montalto di Castro &ndash have developed into sprawling modern centres.
Lawrence provides striking descriptions of the characters that he encountered in Etruria: there is Albertino, the 14-year-old Dickensian manager of Gentile&rsquos hotel in Tarquinia the young German archaeologist &lsquowho looks as if he&rsquod had vinegar for breakfast&rsquo and Luigi and Marco, the maremmani who serve as guides to Vulci. Equally colourful are his accounts of architectural ruins: the bridge at Vulci &lsquoin the sky, like a black bubble, most strange and lonely, with the poignancy of perfect things long forgotten&rsquo or the Porta dell&rsquoArco in Volterra, &lsquowith that peculiar weighty richness of ancient things&rsquo, where &lsquothree dark heads, now worn featureless, reach out curiously and inquiringly, one from the keystone of the arch, one from each of the arch-bases, to gaze from the city out into the steep hollow of the world beyond&rsquo. He views and describes Etruscan masterpieces in unforgettable ways: the sarcophagi in Tarquinia like &lsquothe dead crusaders in English churches&rsquo or the vases of black bucchero ware at the museum in Palazzo Vitelleschi, which &lsquoopen out like strange flowers.&rsquo
The Porta dell&rsquoArco, Volterra. Photo: © David Lyons/Alamy Stock Photo
In the book as published, Lawrence describes four Etruscan sites: Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Vulci, and Volterra, with a few pages on the National Archaeological Museum in Florence. It seems likely, however, that he planned to write about a larger number of places, including the National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia in Rome. Each Etruscan archaeological site could be seen with a local guide, and tombs were explored with the aid of acetylene lamps. In 2017, by contrast, the archaeological park at Vulci has an average of 20,000 visitors per year, and the necropolis in Tarquinia up to 100,000. The two central chapters of Etruscan Places focus on the painted tombs of Tarquinia, forming almost half of the volume. Lawrence describes 16 tombs and their frescoes in detail, mentioning that &lsquoeither twenty-five or twenty-six&rsquo were then visible. Of those discussed by Lawrence, only six are regularly open to the public today five are closed, and five can be visited by appointment. However, in Tarquinia today, 21 tombs are habitually open, of which 16 were discovered after the publication of Lawrence&rsquos book, largely during a substantial archaeological campaign in the 1960s. The most recently discovered tomb at Tarquinia, the Tomb of the Blue Demons, was found in 1985 and was opened to the public this spring. Each tomb is now visible only through a glass door, which guarantees the conservation of the delicate frescoes frustrating as this may sometimes be, it is imperative for the preservation of these wall paintings, following the onset of mass tourism.
Frescoes in the Tomb of the Leopards, Necropolis of Monterozzi, Tarquinia. Courtesy Mibact. Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per l&rsquoArea Metropolitana di Roma, la Provincia di Viterbo e l&rsquoEtruria Meridionale
The tombs and frescoes are portrayed by Lawrence in inspired terms. Examining these paintings &lsquoyou cannot think of art, but only of life itself, as if this were the very life of the Etruscans, dancing in their coloured wraps with massive yet exuberant naked limbs, ruddy from the air and the sea-light, dancing and fluting along through the little olive trees, out in the fresh day&rsquo. Haunting passages describe the Tomb of the Augurs, with prodigious figures performing &lsquothe mourning gesture, strange and momentous&rsquo, and the Tomb of the Bulls &ndash with a detail described by the guide as &lsquoun po&rsquo di pornografico!&rsquo Lawrence is quick to justify such details. For him they &lsquoare not two little dirty drawings. Far from it [&hellip] The drawings have the same naïve wonder in them, as the rest, the same archaic adult innocence of complete acceptance.&rsquo
Frescoes in the Tomb of the Augurs, Necropolis of Monterozzi, Tarquinia. Courtesy Mibact. Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio per l&rsquoArea Metropolitana di Roma, la Provincia di Viterbo e l&rsquoEtruria Meridionale
Most interesting is Lawrence&rsquos attitude to museums holding Etruscan artefacts. In 1927, he visited the museums in Rome and Florence, and the book includes descriptions of the small museums at Palazzo Vitelleschi in Tarquinia and the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci in Volterra. He was persuaded that &lsquoit is a great mistake to rape everything away from its setting, and huddle it together in the &ldquogreat centres&rdquo [&hellip] Museums anyhow are wrong. But if one must have museums, let them be small, and above all, let them be local. Splendid as the Etruscan museum is in Florence, how much happier one is in the museum in Tarquinia, where all the things are Tarquinian, and at least have some association with one another, and form some sort of organic whole&rsquo. It is an attitude that resonates today, and not least because the famous Euphronios Krater &ndash illegally excavated from the Greppe Sant&rsquoAngelo necropolis in Cerveteri at the end of 1971, and sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 &ndash was returned to the Italian government in 2008. For four years the extraordinary masterpiece was displayed at the Villa Giulia in Rome, but since 2012 it has provided the centrepiece of the small museum in Cerveteri, a short distance away from the tomb in Greppe Sant&rsquoAngelo where the niche in which it was discovered is still visible among the camomile and thistle flowers.
Euphronios Krater (c. 515 BC), Euphronios. Museo Archeologico Cerite, Cerveteri
Lawrence&rsquos views on museums in the &lsquogreat centres&rsquo are a reminder of how extensively Etruscan artefacts had been dispersed in previous centuries. The Inghirami Tomb, for example, one of the most impressive funerary complexes discovered in Volterra, and containing about 50 of the characteristic carved alabaster sarcophagi from the area, was discovered in 1861 by the brothers Jacopo and Ludovico Inghirami. In 1899, the contents of the tomb were transferred to the National Archaeological Museum in Florence, where a life-sized replica of the tomb was built under the museum&rsquos garden, and the sarcophagi were displayed in the facsimile of the tomb. Damaged during the flood of 1966, the tomb was restored afterwards, but is currently closed, like most of the garden of the museum, for lack of staff. Lawrence commented on how the treasure from the Regolini-Galassi Tomb in Cerveteri had already been moved to the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco at the Vatican, and when he attempted to visit the François Tomb in Vulci, he writes, he &lsquotried in vain to get in. Short of smashing the lock, it was impossible.&rsquo He would have not seen much in any case, since the extraordinary cycle of frescoes from the tomb had been detached in 1863 by Prince Alessandro Torlonia and moved to Villa Albani in Rome. When, in 2004, the cycle of frescoes was lent by the private owners to the museum in Vulci for three months, the exhibition attracted 35,000 visitors, almost double of what the entire site attracts in a year.
The Inghirami Tomb, recreated with artefacts from Volterra at the National Archaeological Museum in Florence in 1899. Photo: Scala, Florence courtesy Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali e del Turismo
Today, a visit to the necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri or that of Monterozzi in Tarquinia confirms Lawrence&rsquos view in 1927: &lsquothere is a queer stillness, and a curious peaceful repose about the Etruscan places I have been to, quite different from the weirdness of Celtic places, the slightly repellant feeling of Rome and the old campagna, and the rather horrible feeling of the great pyramid places in Mexico, Teotihuacán and Cholula, and Mitla in the south or the amiably idolatrous Buddha places in Ceylon.&rsquo Remarkably, though, the archaeological parks of Cerveteri, Tarquinia, and Vulci have witnessed a renaissance in the last 90 years, having been well maintained and opened to a wide public through the work of the Soprintendenze. More structures than ever have been protected and made accessible, in locations where tombs are abundant (more than 400 survive at Cerveteri and almost 6,000 have been discovered at Tarquinia &ndash only three per cent of which were decorated with frescoes). As much as the idea of visiting these sites in relative solitude with acetylene lamps sounds appealing, it is a great accomplishment that they are now suitably managed and studied. New excavations are occasionally carried out, most recently in the area of the Tomb of the Sea Waves in Cerveteri, in 2016.
Notwithstanding the enhancements to these archaeological parks and their increased visitor visitors, the sites described by Lawrence still preserve that evocative quality described in Etruscan Places. With all their idiosyncrasy and enigmatic qualities, Etruscan works of art remain enthralling as the relics of a long lost and still deeply mysterious civilisation. Lawrence was right when he noted that &lsquothere is a haunting quality in the Etruscan representations. Those leopards with their long tongues hanging out: those flowing hippocampi: those cringing spotted deer, struck in flank and neck they get into the imagination, and will not go out.&rsquo
From the July/August issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.
Walking into the opulent Museo Napoleonico near Piazza Navona, you might feel you're in Paris rather than Rome. In fact, the entire city could have been more like Paris if Napoleon had succeeded in his conquest of Italy. He seized Rome in 1808, kidnapped the pope, and declared his son the King of Rome. Though his empire fell, visitors today can see Napoleon memorabilia inside his museum, including a bust of his sister by sculptor Antonio Canova. (Canova&rsquos sculpture of Pauline Borghese as Victorious Venus is in the Galleria Borghese.) The Museo Napoleonico is located in the Palazzo Primoli, which also contains the Museo Mario Praz upstairs.
Insider Tip: For coffee or a drink, head over to the nearby Caffè della Pace, included in our list of Rome's best bars for a classic Italian aperitivo.
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Today, Etruscan necropolises are UNESCO World Heritage sites and in the summer months, when tourists flock to Tuscany and the surrounding regions, many visitors will be awed by the vibrant frescoes as Lawrence once was. The only pre-Roman urban civilisation on the Italian peninsula, Etruscan city-states in Tuscany, western Umbria and Lazio flourished as centres of culture and commerce from approximately the tenth to the first century BC, when they were defeated and assimilated into the Roman Republic.
It is Roman writers, such as Livy and Pliny the Elder, who produced the official histories of the Etruscan era. They observed that the Etruscans were well-organised politically, skilled in engineering and almost proto-feminist (their mixed-gender banquets shocked their contemporaries, the ancient Greeks). But as few Etruscan texts have survived, and their language is only partly decoded, much about the ancient way of life remains mysterious. It is the vast cities of the dead, with tombs packed with treasures for the afterlife, which are the richest source of clues.
Yet for all this opacity—or perhaps because of it—the Etruscans exert a deep and continuing influence on Italian culture, particularly art. In the Arena Chapel in Padua, Giotto’s depictions of Satan bear a resemblance to Charun, an Etruscan demon present in tomb paintings at Tarquinia Massimo Campigli’s female nudes also evoke the stylised figures of those historic works. In the 20th century Arturo Martini sculpted his own hybrid fire-breathing monster inspired by the Chimera of Arezzo, a famous and intricate piece of Etruscan bronze-casting. In 1976 Michelangelo Pistoletto, a member of the Arte Povera group, produced an installation which reflected a copy of “The Orator of Trasimeno”, an Etruscan statue, in a mirror to create a dialogue of sorts between past and present.
The Etruscans occupy a place in the popular imagination, too. The design for the football used at the World Cup of 1990 (held in Italy) took in an ancient motif of lions’ heads. Silvio Berlusconi constructed an enormous mausoleum at his home in Arcore, near Milan, in 1994: the imitation hypogeum, fit for an Etruscan prince, includes carved niches and objects a media tycoon may wish to take into the next life. (The edifice violates local building regulations and has been declared illegal.) The Etruscans have inspired comic books, too. Disney published “Topolino L’Etrusco” (“Mickey Mouse The Etruscan”) in 2011 as part of its World History series.
From August 22nd-25th, Tarquinia hosts the “DiVino Etrusco” festival (a pun on “divine Etruscan” and “Etruscan wine”), a celebration of the region, which attracted 15,000 visitors in 2018. Restaurants in Tuscany and Lazio are often marketed as ristorante etrusco, but the word is adopted as a marker of identity, too. Older residents may bear the nickname “l’Etrusco” people are sometimes said to have inherited “Etruscan” facial features, particularly long noses and high cheekbones. An Etruscan identity appeals because it suggests atavistic lineages and a regional allegiance.
Indeed, in the past some Italians have considered Etruscan artefacts to be a birthright of sorts. To the dismay of the state, tombaroli, or tomb robbers, have often beaten archaeologists to sites of importance, with a large number of artefacts ending up on the black market. Post-war economic inequality left sections of Italian society cash-poor and as it was common for farmers and constructors to unearth Etruscan tombs and their treasures, it was not unusual for these artefacts to be used as currency, with doctors and lawyers reputedly being offered pots as payment for professional services. In 2004 a legislative decree was passed obliging a certificate of authenticity and provenance to be provided in the sale of artefacts, a move which seems to have led to a decrease in illegal trafficking.
The air of mystery that surrounds the Etruscans, which so captivated Lawrence, endures to this day. Etruscology remains a popular academic discipline in Italy. The National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, Rome, is thriving: in 2018 the museum received 82,300 visitors, a 14.3% increase on the previous year. In a country where ties to family and place are deeply rooted, it is unsurprising that today’s inhabitants of central Italy retain a strong attachment to their ancient ancestors.
Things to see at the Necropolis Cerveteri
The site consists of over 1,000 burial grounds and pits. I had no idea what to expect, so you might want to check the pictures to get an idea of what it’s like. Cerveteri is almost like a village with 2 main streets, flanked by several Etruscan tombs and burial grounds.
They have a small café and restroom at the sight and the video room. I just arrived when there was a whole class of screaming Italian school children so they only played the video in Italian. But it is pretty amazing. Ask to have it in English when you visit.
They show how the burial grounds were made with an animation. They display spectacular drone footage to give an idea of the magnitude of the Necropolis and they show some rituals and artifacts of every day Etruscan life. This comes in pretty useful when you visit the Etruscan tombs.
Etruscan Tombs to see in Cerveteri
The big burial mounds at Cerveteri are the prime attraction in Cerveteri. Yes, it was nice to escape the crowds of Rome and be out in nature and just roam the sight and wonder what life would have been like over 2,600 years ago. But you’re probably wondering why I needed a remote control, right?
I’ll tell you. The remote control can be used on several of the Etruscan tombs (the big ones!). If you enter the mounds and descend, you can hit play for audio and visual effects inside the tombs. They tell the story of the Etruscan couple of 2 women, buried with their child. Or where the gold was buried along with the high ranking Etruscan.
They tell you about the building style of the Etruscan tombs that resemble the houses of that era and how we can recognize the different tombs and who must have been buried there.
But isn’t a visit to the Necropolis spooky?
Mmmhh… Not really. There are no bodies or human remains left in the burial mounds. It was a bright and sunny day when I visited and I didn’t feel Cerveteri is that much connected to the dead or a modern cemetery. It’s more an abandoned city than a graveyard.
It does get a bit cold and dark if you descend into the mounded tombs of the Etruscans and some chambers were flooded because of the previous rain. The curtain protecting the tombs isn’t all that fresh anymore but overall, it’s a sight you can easily bring your kids too.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES TOUR &ndash ROME GUIDES
The Museums and Galleries Tour will allow you to visit world-class public and private museums in Rome, including marvellous art galleries and noble palaces full of sculptures, paintings and famous artistic treasures.
This page is only a summary list of the Guided Tours offered in the Museums and Galleries section. You can learn more about each visit by clicking on the name of the Museum of interest : at that point the appropriate Page of the Tour will open.
As a first option, you could visit the Capitoline Museums . The superb Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius , the Capitoline She-wolf and the Spinario are just some of the wonderful works of art that we will examine in this extraordinary collection, and you will have also the chance to enjoy a panoramic view all over the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
NATIONAL ETRUSCAN MUSEUM
As a second option, you could follow us in the National Etruscan Museum , located in the admirable Villa Giulia, built in Rome by the will of Pope Julius III. The exhibition will open wide the doors of the Etruscan culture and history, exalting itself in the Sarcophagus of the Spouses , dated back to the VI Century BC, with the couple lying in a familiar convivial or symposial pose.
NATIONAL ROMAN MUSEUM
Alternatively, the National Roman Museum of Palazzo Massimo , an important treasure chest of Roman antiquities, with the unreachable peak of the Portonaccio Sarcophagus and the impressive elegance of the Boxer at Rest , known as one of the most important bronze statues on display in the Italian museums. The rooms of this museum house real fragments of the ancient historical facts of Rome.
We can also suggest a visit to the second of the four locations of the National Roman Museum, the Baths of Diocletian : you can visit the monumental thermal baths of the Imperial Rome, starting from the analysis of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs and then jump to the discovery of the Epigraphic Museum housed in the structure.
Finally, a leap forward in time could take us into the midst of the dreamlike visions of the Andersen Museum , to discover the utopian ideal city imagined by the Norwegian artist, naturalized American. This Museum is almost completely unknown for the traditional visitors of Rome and Italy, but it will offer one of the most unforgettable and emotional experiences of your trip.
THE OTHER MUSEUMS OF ROME
If you wish to visit the collection of the Borghese Gallery , you can consult the special page of the Borghese Gallery Tour, dedicated to it. Bernini, Canova, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael and other Renaissance Masters will be the highlights of this experience.
If you prefer to visit the Vatican Museums, entering the Sistine Chapel, please book that specific tour.
Rome Guides is available to take you to any museum in Rome. This list should therefore not be considered exhaustive: think about the Colonna Gallery, the Museum of the Baths of Diocletian, the Markets of Trajan, the Ara Pacis or the Doria Pamphilj Gallery.
Rome is an enormous open-air museum!
DETAILS OF THE TOUR
The lenght of each Tour will be about 2 and a half hours.
The Tour does not include the payment of the entrance ticket to the museum. Usually, the Museums indicated do not require advance booking of the admission tickets. Every Museum can have a different closing day. Contact us to tailor your tour.
1. The Institute was founded in 1939 at the suggestion of Giulio Carlo Argan and was directed by Cesare Brandi until 1959, as a centre of scientific and technical advice for the restoration of works of cultural heritage. Founded as an Italian ministerial body, it has since been operating both in Italy and abroad (http://www.icr.beniculturali.it/, last accessed June 2014).
2. Renato Bonelli׳s theoretic contribution consists in transferring to the restoration the acquisitions of thought aesthetic, critical, and historic of Benedetto Croce, in an attempt to offer new prospects to the philological orientation of late Nineteenth century matrix. Cf. Carbonara (2001) .
3. Among his major works: the exhibition arrangements for the Museum of Capodimonte (1951–1957), the Provincial Museum of Salerno at S. Benedetto (1959–1964) and the cathedral of Pozzuoli (1968–1982). Cf. Cocchieri (2006) .
4. The richest documentation about Minissi׳s production may be found at the Italian State Central Archive in Rome, where the documentation of his officeis kept. In-depth theoretical studies were carried out also through the consultation of documents at the library of Iccrom (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and at the library of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture Department of “Sapienza” University of Rome. Part of his original drawings were found in the archives of the administrative and historic documents of the Museo delle Genti in Pescara the private archive of architect Filippo Danese in Brindisi the private archive of Borghi-Prosperi-Pozzi office in Rome the private archive kept by the heirs of architect Mario Ezio Pappalardo.
5. According to the draft, the weight of the crystals had to be unloaded directly to the ground through a thin metal frame leaning against the stone base. In the embodiment, however, this structure was eliminated and the whole load went to affect on the bars below, crossing the stone base.
6. The building of the villa (1553–1555) had been carried out by a series of famous architects and painters, but, after the Pope׳s death, the splendour had been reduced, transforming the place into little more than a farm.
7. A photo of the covering in masonry and roof tiles done in 1941–1942 by Piero Gazzola over the Triclinium can be seen in: http://www.unipa.it/monumentodocumento/villadelcasale/piero_gazzola.html (accessed February, 2014).
8. For the chronology of the vicissitudes of the Villa cf. Vitale (2010) , pp. 97–158 and also Alessandra Alagna, Cronistoria , in http://www.unipa.it/monumentodocumento/villadelcasale/page35.html (accessed February, 2014). A substantial reflection on the protection of the showcases of the 1950s is in: Vivio (2010) , pp. 73–81 and 227–231.
10. The technological updatingoption, warmly supported by well-known scholars and technicians, can be found in Carbonara (2006) and Dezzi Bardeschi (2004) at Franco Tomaselli, La villa romana del Casale di Piazza Armerina è in pericolo, http://www.unipa.it/monumentodocumento/villadelcasale (accessed February, 2014) and at http://www.piazza-grande.it/documenti/villaromana/villaromana.htm (accessed February, 2014).
11. The cancellation of the ‘container’ to focus attention on the objects displayed is used by Minissi at the Pepoli museum in Trapani (1953–1965) or at the Sacristy and Treasury Museum at St. Peter׳s in the Vatican (1973–1975). In the case of Piazza Armerina he believed in expanding the boundaries of the villa with incorporate the landscape value acquired by the ruins.
12. ACS (Archivio Centrale dello Stato), Fondo Minissi, b. 8, fasc. 109, Sf. 1. Letter to Alfredo Barbacci, January 29, 1963.
13. ACS, Fondo Minissi, b. 8, fasc. 109, Sf. 1. Project report, October 1970.
14. ACS, Fondo Minissi, b. 8, fasc. 109, Sf. 1. Project report, October 1970.
15. ACS, Fondo Minissi, b. 7, fasc. 104. Letter, October 3, 1966 from Bruno Zevi to James T. Burns Jr, editor-in-chief of the periodical Progressive Architecture .