Explore Tuscany’s Ancient History
Posted by Sonia (12/06/2015)
Italy has a long and fascinating history, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations for those with an interest in the past. Tuscany has always played an import part in that history, with the ancient Etruscan people of the region having been an important early influence on Roman civilization. Today there are numerous sites of historical interest throughout Tuscany you can visit. Here are some of our favourites:
FiesoleNestling in the hills just North East of Florence, this settlement is generally thought to have existed since the 8th or 9th century BC. Fiesole was conquered by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, most likely for its hilltop location which offered a strong strategic position as well as being above the surrounding marshland.
Tourists can visit the remains of the Roman baths and theatre as well as what is left of the massive ancient walls which once protected the settlement. Fiesole has two museums history lovers will want to check out, the Civic Museum, which contains many artefacts from the Roman period and earlier, and the Antiquariam Costantini, which houses a large collection of ancient Greek and Etruscan ceramics.
VolterraCalled Velathri by the ancient Etruscans and Volaterrae by the Romans, Volterra today is a commune roughly an hour’s drive South West of Florence. There is evidence of a continuous settlement on the site dating back to at least the 8th century BC. Volterra was part of both the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, being an important city the experienced a strong rivalry with nearby Florence.
Volterra is perhaps most famous today for its Roman theatre. Excavated in the 1950s by Enrico Fiumi, it is one of the best preserved Roman theatres in Italy today. Commissioned by the consuls Aulo Caecina Severo and Gaio Caecina Largo, the theatre is built on a natural slope with the tiered seating typical of Roman theatres.
Chiusi45 minutes South East of Siena, Chiusi stands on the site of the ancient city of Clusium. Once one of the most powerful cities in the region, Clusium played an important part in Etruscan history and the early history of Rome. Notably, King Porsenna of Clusium went to war with Rome when the city deposed its last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, before ultimately establishing peaceful relations with the new republic.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Chiusi for tourists is buried beneath it. Constructed sometime in the 6th or 5th century BC, the catacombs, also known as the Labyrinth of Porsenna, is a series of tunnels beneath the town. It is thought the tunnels once formed part of the tomb of King Porsenna before later being used for drainage. There are regular guided tours of the catacombs, offering the chance to feel like you are walking back in time by thousands of years.
If you need somewhere to stay while you explore the Tuscany, take a look at our villas in Florence, Siena and throughout the region.