Not much has been left of the Etruscan civilization. It is always imprudent to stand against the bullish Romans.
The Etruscans did exactly this: the most refined culture of Central Italy , a maritime power , an original architecture has been wiped away after a policy of extermination.
The Etruscans were a local population which lived in Central Italy approximately between Florence and Naples. In Italian South was totally Greek, with beautiful and rich cities funded by different Greek polis (motherland cities).
The North was wild and almost empty: the Etruscans funded twelve main cities, ports, created a powerful fleet of merchant and warships. The main business was with Italian Greeks and the mainland cities of Greece.
Rome was at first ignored by those elegant merchants. It was only when a band of cattle raiders funded a small town on the top of some hills by the river Tiber, Rome, that the Etruscans came.
They gave Rome a real king, not a shepherd chief; they dried the marsh where is the Roman Forum, created an efficient sewage system, built the huge Temple of Jupiter.
The Romans accepted those “gifts” until they felt themselves strong enough to exile their Etruscan king, Tarquinio. Then they started a real genocide, destroying all the Etruscan cities, killing thousands, pulling down their temples and bringing the statues of their gods to Rome.
Being superstitious, the Romans respected the dead and the necropolis are the only Etruscan buildings left.
Our tour will start with the visit the the Necropoli of Cerveteri (50 miles from Rome): it is a wide area covered by funeral mounds, their greatness due to the social status of the buried. Those underground chambers surmounted by semispherical domes are dug into the volcanic rock.
After lunch in the small town of Cerveteri, famous for its dry white wine, we continue to Tarquinia, an Etruscan city 40 miles north.
Here the necropolis is different even if contemporary to the Cerveteri’s one. The tombs are non visible from above and are dug into the rock and are all decorated with frescoes of 8th Century b.C.
The scenes represent a magnificent description of the everyday life and the beliefs of the Etruscans. The colours are still vivid and bright.