Umbria and Tuscany are partitions modern politics: the first was one with the Etruscans (Perugia, Chiusi, San Quirico), then with the Lombard feudal domination that has shaped the character and history. Today, increasingly free from the domination of the papacy, the Tuscans are showing a spiritual past that fascinates, and that is a liberal model town to visit with interest from monumental tracks from Casa Lemmi B & B you can find and interpret.
To track down and meditate on the trail past the first esoteric Etruscan, then Roman, Norman.
In search of eternal sleep: the Etruscan
The finds in the beautiful Archaeological Museum G.C. Mecenate (housed in what used to be an Olivetan convent, which had been built over a Roman amphitheatre) confirm the importance the centre had during the Etruscan era. From a period which sweeps from the prehistoric age to Roman times, of particular importance is the collection of “Vasi corallini” [coral red vases] made exclusively in the area of Arezzo, together with those of Euphronios and Meidias, masterpieces of Attic ceramics.
For 40,000 years the hill of Cetona has seen the presence of man (although the remains of the Musterian Culture date as far back as 80,000 years ago), and the Etruscan settlement which occupied it is just as early. The entire mountain is riddled with impressive caves.
The ancient town of Villanovian origin from 525 B.C. expanded greatly under the reign of the legendary Lucomone Porsenna, who even today remains one of the greatest Etruscan mysteries thanks to the intriguing historical and personal stories behind him, which are as yet unclear. This area is an ongoing excavation site: tombs are continually being found (the remains of pictorial art inside them are remarkable yet rare), and it is home to one of the most important archaeological museums in Italy.
The Archaeological Museum here contains the genesis of the territory, which begins in the Neolithic era, goes through the Bronze Age and ends with the Roman settlement. Traces of the Etruscan period have surprised research, which has been working on a single site since 1933.
The ancient people are not remembered here merely because of the splendour of the archaeological finds, but also thanks to the present day inhabitants: their DNA is currently being studied closely, as it appears to have remained unchanged since that of their ancestors.
Rome began to see the light of day at the time when Perugia boasted impressive Etruscan walls (dating back to the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C.) with seven gates. Writing appeared early on and artistic production flourished, as witnessed by the refined burial artefacts in the National Archaeological Museum of Umbria. The ground in the town centre conceals the Etruscan well, an exceptionally large, fascinating stretch of water.
Flowers of broom and crocus lighten up the beautiful thicket that surrounds the large excavation of the town, which was abandoned nearly two millenniums ago, and which reached the height of its expansion during the Etruscan era. It provides a rare document of the various stages of life in a town in ancient Etruria.
Two rooms of the Spedale di S. Maria della Scala contain the large collections of the Antiquarium and a topographic section with very heterogeneous material, which serve as a precious explanation of the rise of towns around Siena. It also holds the clay facing of the Regia di Murlo and the Bucelli collection.
Man’s presence here dates back to the archaic era, however the most surprising remains are the extremely beautiful, impressive rupestrian necropoli (3rd century B.C.) with their valuable carvings and engravings that surround the entire town centre.
What is thought to be one of the first Etruscan settlements was the capital of a domain which occupied the islands along the southern Tuscan coast and the areas as far as Massa Marittima. The unusual size of the tombs belonging to the Villanovian and Etruscan era in the vast necropolis are quite amazing.
Along the road of Templars:
ABBAZIA DI SAN GALGANO
The Cistercian building claimed Bernardo da Chiaravalle as its own religious leader, champion of the crusades and spiritual guide of the Templar Knights. The roads in the area led to the Tyrrhenian port of departure to Jerusalem and the Via Francigena. The abbey was built according to the wish of St. Galgano. Was this yet another Templar base, concealed as a place of worship?
The sword in the rock, the tiny church of S. Galgano, Mount Siepi: every element is linked to the story of Galgano Guidotti, a knight who died in 1181, and speaks of amazing bonds (and why not, the fore-runner?) with the legends of the Round Table and the Templars.
ROMITORIO DI PIENZA
The most mysterious architectural record lies on the tufaceous cliff of the Val d’Orcia. The written documents contain no dates for the dark passageways and corners that wind around a minute chapel, under whose sloping roof towers the Templar cross. They say, however, that hermits lived here until 1768.
MAGIONE DI PERUGIA
The Templars dominate the history of the town with weighty evidence of the power acquired by the Order in this area. What began in the 12th century as a place to welcome pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela was transformed over the centuries into one of the most beautiful fortresses in Umbria, owned today by the Knights of Malta .
MAGIONE DI POGGIBONSI
Along the main road leading from Siena to the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Tuscan port for the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulchre there remain not only the ruins of an important Templar site, but also signs of a sumptuous past, still observed by the community living there today under the Rule of the Order of the Templars.
PIEVE DI SANTA MARIA DE SPINO
Ambiguous traces in stone are perhaps the only legacy of the Order that remains in Monticchiello, which passed from the jurisdiction of the Abbey of San Salvatore with the imprimatur of the pope and was handed over to the Teutonic Knights in virtue of their merits during the Crusades.
The construction and decorations of the church in the village of San Bevignate followed a specific symbolic programme. Its extremely tiny crypt (80 cm high and 225 cm wide) has protected the remains of San Bevignate since 1608, and during the period in which it acted as a hermitage, it would have opened one of the wells situated at the rear of the altar.