Cerveteri Tourist Attractions
SituationThe little country town of Cerveteri, now a place of no particular importance, occupies the site of the ancient Caere, once one of the leading Etruscan cities, on a tufa ridge 45km/28mi northwest of Rome. The empire of the Etruscans, who were artists and skilled artisans, reached its peak in the sixth century.Little remains of the original city. In the Piazza Santa Maria is the medieval Rocca, a castle which is partly built on Etruscan walls of the fourth century B.C.
To the north of Cerveteri, extending along the edge of the tufa hill known as the Banditaccia, is a large Etruscan cemetery (seventh-first centuries B.C.); a city of the dead which bears impressive witness, in the scale of the necropolis and the richness of the buried goods, to the importance attached by the Etruscans to the cult of the dead. On either side of a "main street" some 2km/1.5mi long, with a number of side streets, lie hundreds of tombs, including huge tumuli up to 30m/99ft in diameter and many tomb chambers hewn from the rock in the form of dwelling-houses, often with several rooms. Many tombs have holes showing the point of entry of early tomb-robbers (a torch should be taken).The most impressive gravestones include those of the Tomba dei Capitelli, Tomba dei Dolii, Tomba dei Vasi Greci, Tomba dei 13 Cadaveri, Tomba dei Rilievi, Tomba della Casetta, Tomba dei Letti e Sarcofagi, as well as the Tumulo della Cornice and the Tumulo Ophelia Maroi. Of the underground tombs, particular mention should be made of the Tomba dei Rilievi, with painted bas-relief representations of everyday objects.
Cerveteri (a corruption of Caere Vetus) occupies the site of the Etruscan city of Caere, which was an important commercial and political center from the eighth to the fourth century B.C. The necropolis of Cerveteri, to the north of the present town, introduces the visitor to the life and the funerary cult of this people, who occupied large areas of central Italy before the rise of Rome and developed a high degree of artistic achievement in architecture, painting, sculpture and metalwork. Gold and bronze objects, vases and paintings produced by the Etruscans can be seen in the museums of Rome as well as in the British Museum and the Louvre. There are numerous impressive tombs, among the most notable being the Tomba dei Capitelli, dei Dolii, dei Vasi Greci, dei 13 Cadaveri, dei Rilievi, della Cassetta and dei Letti e Sarcofagi, and the tumuli (burial mounds) of the Cornice and of Ophelia Maroi.
Museo Nazionale Cerite
Opposite the medieval Rocca in Cerveteri stands the 16th century Palazzo Ruspoli, which houses the Museo Nazionale Cerite, containing material from the Etruscan cemeteries round the town; the most important items, however, are in Rome (Etruscan Museum in the Vatican, Villa Giulia Museum).