Archaeological digs in Maremma
Visit the sites of the Etruscans
Even this year, alongside the exhibition organized at the Art and Archaeology Museum of the Maremma one can explore the region’s thematic itineraries and visit archaeological sites where digs are currently underway.
The lords of the Maremma. The Etruscan Elite from Populonia and the Vulcente is the title of the 2009 exhibition, organized by the municipality of Grosseto in collaboration with the Super-intendance of Archaeological Property in Tuscany and possible thanks to the financial backing of the Ente Cassa di Risparmio of Florence. On view are over two hundred finds from five different archaeological sites of the Maremma - Populonia, Vetulonia, Marsiliana d’Albegna, PoggioBuco-Pitigliano and Roselle,. The finds tell the precious stories about the life and death of the Lords of the Maremma, the Etruscan princes of the ‘Orientalizing’ period, which took place between 700-600 BC.
The ideal starting point for both itineraries is the Art and Archaeology Museum of the Maremma, where in addition to the exhibition, one may view important archaeological finds from Roselle and other regions in the Maremma. The two itineraries cross the Province of Grosseto in opposite directions: Northwards, the ideal pit stops to make are the archaeological sites of Roselle, Vetulonia (Museum and dig), the Lago dell'Accesa Reserve, whose finds are stored in the Archaeological Museum of Massa Marittima, the Parco of Baratti and Populonia.
Southwards, the archaeological sites of Marsiliana d'Albegna and Poggio Buco are not open to visitors. In Pitigliano you may want to visit the Archaeological Museum as well as the Cities of the Living and of the Dead, and finally the Parco Città del tufo. Finally, in the province of Viterbo in Vulci, the Archaeological Reserve Park of Vulci which consists of different sites and the National Archaeological Museum. The itineraries have been planned out by Maria Grazia Celuzza, director of the Art and Archaeology Museum of the Maremma.
The Art and Archaeology Museum of the Maremma is situated in Grosseto’s city center, within in an Ottocento building that used to serve as the old court. An entire floor is dedicated to the archaeological finds from Roselle. In 1138 the bishop’s seat was transferred from Roselle to Grosseto. In addition, the museum houses a rich body of documents belonging to the most important archaeological centers in Maremma.
NORTH ITINERARY: Roselle, Vetulonia, Lago dell’Accesa and Populonia
A visit to Roselle is a journey to the past: the ancient edifices and ruins scattered throughout the city date back to 2000 years ago, and range from Etruscan to medieval ruins. One of the more frequently visited paths is that which runs along the ancient Etruscan walls, recently restored. They were built with enormous and high stone masses and prove to be one of the monuments which stand out the most in the city. The length of the walls brings us to the home of the impluvium, a large living residence that during the archaic age held an outdoor atrium with a basin to collect rain water, just like in a domus romana.
On top of the North hill there is an amphitheater dating to the first century AD. The heart of Roselle is the Roman forum, located in the city center. Here you will find the city’s most ancient edifices, protected by a roofed enclosure, like the fenced home which served as the political and religious center for the Etruscan community (seventh century BC). Surrounding the roman piazza there are several complexes, among those dedicated to imperial worship like the Augustan Domus and the luxurious Domus of the Mosaics.
Vetulonia is solely characterized by the ancient necropolis, it also houses many urban monuments. This Etruscan city, much more spread out than its actual state, was surrounded by city walls built in the seventh century BC. Specific reference should be made about the remains of the fortifications now placed at the summit of the city – the arx: only a fragment of this monument remains, fixed between two tall medieval buildings and built out of polygonal blocks. The ancient living lay out is visible still today in the well known locality of Poggiarello Renzetti: this living quarter dates to the third century BC. Further into the country and beyond the city walls you may find an immense necropolis with an enchanting trail known as ‘the way of the sepulchres’, pleced somewhere between the forest and the harvests. In the center of the town of Vetulonia you can visit the Archaeological Museum “Isidoro Falchi”, which houses important finds ranging from the Villanovan period up until the Orientalizing period. Make sure not to miss the orientalizing goldsmith workshops, where Etruscan artisans produced work of highest quality in techniques which included granulation, embossing and dusting. For several years the area surrounding the Lago dell’Accesa has been set up as an archaeological site. Pathways and trails guide visitors along the four districts, conventionally known as A, B, C and D, while the district E is still under construction as it is being currently excavated.
The findings from this village is now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Massa Marittima. The archaeological site in Populonia is known today as the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia and falls under the umbrella of the parks in the Val di Cornia. Many different pathways allow you to explore the ‘Via dei Principi’ (necropoli of San Cerbone and of the Casone) replete with monumental tombs of the Carri, of the Letti Funebri, of the Flabelli, of the Oreficerie, of the Bronzetto di Offerente and many more; the ‘Via del Ferro’ leads you to the industrial buildings and to the necropolis of Poggio della Porcareccia; the ‘Via delle Cave’ crosses the forest and brings to the necropolis of the Grotte. New excavations and conservation projects are underway, often these will be open to visitors. The Archaeological Museum of Populonia is in Piombino, situated within the ancient Cittadella. The museum llustrates the transformations tied to the population of the territory of Populonia from its prehistory to the modern age.
SOUTH ITINERARY: Marsiliana d'Albegna – Poggio Buco – Pitigliano – Sorano - Vulci
The historic sites of Marsiliana d'Albegna and Poggio Buco are not equipped to host visitors. While at Pitigliano you may visit the Open-air Museum Cities of the living and of the dead, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Pitigliano, at the center of Palazzo Orsini you may find tucked away the findings from the necropolis of Pitigliano and of Poggio Buco. The museum was remodeled in 1995 following a precious donation on part of the Vaselli collection: a thousand findings derive from the necropolis of Poggio Buco, where Adele Vaselli led excavations on his lands in 1955-60. Not far from Pitigliano, within the tufa stone region you will find the Parco La città del tufo, with its center in Sovana, in the province of Sorano. The park offers visitors the chance to interact with a landscape that looks almost identical to the way it looked thousands of years ago, untouched.
The necropoli are characteristic of the region, filled with monumental painted tombs. Some of the tombs to look out for are the tomb of the (Ildebranda, which owes its name to Ildebrando, pope Gregory VII, born in Sovana), the tombs Typhon and Siren. In Vulci there is a park that consists of the area of the ancient city, the necropolis and the National Archaeological Museum, immersed in a natural and evocative landscape. The museum is in the Castello dell’Abbadia, built in the XII century over the preceding abbey of San Mamiliano al Ponte. In recent years new excavations and conservation initiatives have enriched the region and the park itself, making it a site to be seen.