Tuscan Maremma

Vetulonia what to see in the ancient Etruscan town

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Vetulonia what to see in the ancient and powerful Etruscan town whose traces were lost

The history of Vetulonia is quite strange. We’re talking about one of the most important Etruscan town, part of the Dodecapolis (twelve city-state), a very rich and powerful town cthat at some point vanished from History without leaving traces or almost. We knew very little about Vetulonia and all the informations came from some classical authors as Dionigi di Alicarnasso, Silio Italico and Plinio. There were no material remains to document the town and didn’t even have a name on a map indicating where to look…

The rediscovery of Vetulonia

The interest for this mythical Etruscan town was reborn, following the humanist studies, starting from the 15th century when many people started to look for it in many places of the ancient Etruria as Vulci, Orbetello and Massa Marittima.

The breakthrough came in 1880 when Isidoro Falchi, a doctor passionate about archaeology, decided to do some researches in a locality called Colonna di Buriano, attracted by the many artifacts found in the area. Falchi was the first to see a connection between these findings and the lost town; no one had yet thought the legendary Vetulonia could hide in a place like that.

After few years of excavations was finally clear that Colonna di Buriano was really the ancient Vetulonia and, on 22 July 1887, a Royal Decree restored the original name of the town.

Over the years, excavations have shown what were the wealth and importance of this city that as early as the 8th century BC had reached its maximum splendour but, after the Roman conquer, it started its decline up to sink into oblivion in the early centuries of the middle ages.

As you may have guessed the archaeological heritage is vast and in fact in this locality of Maremma were discovered several thousand graves!

Vetulonia what to see

Today Vetulonia is part of the municipality of Castiglione della Pescaia, near Grosseto. The visit is in two parts: the area with the graves and the hamlet.

Via dei Sepolcri

Going to Vetulonia, just minutes from the village, we cross a road called via dei sepolcri, along which were found some monumental tombs. The first one is the tomba del Belvedere, followed by the tomba della Pietrera with two superposed chambers. Even further there are the tomba del Diavolino II (the tomba del Diavolino I was disassemble and rebuilt inside the garden of the Archaeological Musime of Florence) and the tomba della Fibula d’oro. The tombs of the necropolis of Vetulonia returned many materials partially preserved in local archaeological museum and partly exposed in Florence. These are only the most important betweem the thousands of graves discovered in Vetulonia, among the others we can mention the tomba del Duce, the tomba del Littore, the circolo di Bes and the circolo del Tridente.

Tomb of the Diavolino II in Vetulonia Tuscany Italy
Tomb of the Diavolino II (Photo by Gabriele Delhey / CC BY)

Taking up the road towards the village, we passi near the Abbey of San Bartolomeo a Sestiga (11th-12th century) whose structures are largely collapsed.

The village of Vetulonia

Even if the findings from the city centre are minor compared to those of the necropolis, even here we find archaeological excavations (in the areas of Costa dei Lippi and Costa Murata) and some etruscan structures. In particular, are very interesting the Etruscan “cyclopean walls” called mura dell’arce, composed of large polygonal blocks and dated between the sixth and fifth centuries BC.

Etruscan walls of Arce in Vetulonia Tuscany Italy
Etruscan walls of Arce (Photo by Matteo Vinattieri / CC BY)

From the Middle Ages are the Sienese castle, the unique remain of the Castello di Colonna (7th century), and the chiesa dei Santi Simone e Giuda (11th century) which unfortunately has been completely altered in later centuries.

The Sienese Castle in Vetulonia Tuscany Italy
Sienese Castle in Vetulonia (Photo by Matteo Vinattieri / CC BY)

In the etruscan-roman district of Poggiarello Renzetti some recent excavations have brought to light the rooms of the so-called Domus dei Dolia. A big structure, composed of many rooms, which returned a substantial amount of artifacts.

The district of Poggiarello Renzetti in Vetulonia Tuscany Italy
The district of Poggiarello Renzetti (Photo by Robin Iversen Rönnlund / CC BY)

Civic Archaeological Museum

Last but not least among the things too see in the city centre of Vetulonia, the Museo Civico Archeologico “Isidoro Falchi”. Very interesting museum,Reconstructs the various life stages of the ancient Etruscan town from the ninth century b.c. and exhibits many artifacts found during the excavations of Vetulonia.

Address: Piazza Vetluna

Opening hours:
October-February 10.00-16.00
March-May 10.00-18.00
June-September 10.00-14.00 and 15.00-19.00

Tickets: regular 7 euro (museum and exhibit), 5 euro (museum or exhibit); reduced 5 euro (museum and exhibit), 2,50 (museum or exhibit); schools 1 euro

Web site

How to get to Vetulonia

By train and bus: you can get to Grosseto by train or bus then you have to take the bus 44C by Tiemme Grosseto.

By car: from Florence raccordo autostradale Firenze – Siena, then go to Grosseto on SS223 and exit for Roselle. Continue for Castiglione della Pescaia on SP41 and for Vetulonia on SP152 and SP108.
From south (Rome) highway A12/E80 till Grosseto, then SP152 and SP108 in direction of Vetulonia.

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