The Necropolis of Cerveteri 4 Comments

Its Saturday morning and we set off early. After several days without shopping our food stock is running pretty low, so time to find a supermarket. We head towards Cerveteri and search out a Lidl on route.

We pull in to a fairly new Lidl. The store, crowded with families buying picnic essential before heading over to the beach for the day. It feels manic and chaos, appealing to most Italians. The poor shop attendants struggle to keep up with demand and the shelves are emptied before they are replenished. We join the crowds and fill the trolley. When it is so busy, we would normally give it a miss but most supermarkets do not open on Sunday. Also we are heading over to Rome in the next day or two, so want to be stocked up then we are not wasting time in the city.

As we drive along the coastal road it is clear that everyone in Italy is heading to the beach. Cars are parked in any space possible often partially blocking the road and making access difficult. Every lane to the beach is jammed solid. Not a chance of us getting to a beach today. Further along the coast and the small roads to the beach are blocked by gates. Even small villages and residential communities are sectioned off with fences, security gates and bollards. Clearly a busy section with the only way of controlling the traffic by restricting access. We trundle on and head towards the castle. It like the rest of the coast, it is grid locked.

Vin the motorhome pulls in to the beach front at Marina Cerveteri. Best described as one huge, unorganised and over crowded car park. Not picture postcard material. We squeeze in to a spot and finish organising the shopping. Shuffling beans from shelf to floor and liquids to fridge. We discretely hang our washing on the back of chairs to aid the drying process. Craig stops in the van whilst I take the dudes for a run but our plans soon change. In excitement, Mac darts like a bullet across the beach only to realise the sand is too hot. All of sudden he stops, squeals and then proceeds to dance like a lizard on speed. I dashed over to his rescue but I could not stop laughing. The dance was so funny. Plan B, a walk on the lead through the residential area. Hardly exciting stuff unless of course, tree sniffing rocks your boat.

The area didn’t really do much for us, so once the clothes were dry we headed off in land to the village of Cerveteri. We park up on the village car park under the shade of an old olive tree. Peace and tranquility from the crowds for the night before we explore the Etruscan tombs tomorrow.

Our Bumble free motorhome sosta at Cerveteri GPS position: N041.997153, E012.100657

Cerveteri Town

Cerveteri is famous for the site of the ancient Etruscan city which was one of the most important Etruscan cities around 600 BC. Up bright and early, so we could explore the town before heading over to the tombs. Originally, the ancient city was situated about 7 km from the sea, a location which made it a wealthy trading town derived originally from the iron ore mines in the Tolfa hills. Considering the size and wealth, little is known of the city.

The town doesn’t look much but once inside the core you find the remains of the castle, the restored church of Santa Maria Maggiore and palazzo Ruspoli rebuilt as palace by the Orsini family in 1533. Just before you head over the small fort ramp you can enter the town museum. We were tempted to visit until we discovered all the archaeological finds were located in the Vatican. Instead we just wandered around enjoying a rather quiet and peaceful stroll.

As lunchtime approached the midday heat kicked in and so we took shelter from Vin the motorhome. A bit to eat and plenty liquid refreshments before driving over to the tombs.

Etruscan Tombs

The whole site is surrounded in cypress trees, a clear indication of wealth in this neck of the woods. We drove down the ‘avenue’ to a massive open car park. With just a handful of cars we took centre stage near one of the main tombs. Outside the wind picked up and we were soon engulfed in swirling dust. We sat and took shelter until the mini wind storm passed.

The major centre of Etruscan civilisation a few kilometres from the village and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Necropolis stretches for more than two kilometres. This certainly makes it the most imposing site in all the area with mini hill humps as far as the eye can see. We walked over to the entrance €9 to find no one around. We tooted through the literature as we waited for attendant. We waited and waited and in the end we decided to just walk around the free tombs.

From the outside the tomb mounds looked similar to the one’s in Greece. Maybe we have to use our imagination from those tombs, as we can’t get in? We walked back down the avenue on to the tomb street. We are not sure but we think this is the dado, which describes how they line the streets of the necropolis in regular patterns. The tombs all mostly overgrown, so entrance is restricted. However, there are one or two you can enter and you certainly get a flavour of what they are like.

The tombs are located inside tumuli, partly cut into the tufa rock and partly built over it. The purpose of these complexes was to illustrate the desire of a handful of aristocratic families to make a statement about their wealth and to perpetuate a lifestyle of the highest quality also after death.

When first discovered they found luxury goods spread throughout the tombs. Everything from precious metal, gold, vases, bronzes as well as weapons, razors, buckles and jewellery. The interiors often imitating the houses where the occupants spent their lives, with several rooms, shaped doors and windows, columns and pillars. Tombs date from the 9th to 3rd century BC. The earliest tombs are in the shape of a pit, in which the ashes of the dead were housed; also simple potholes are present. From the later Etruscan period are two types of tombs: tumulus type tombs and the dado simple square tombs.

About 70% of the site is free to wander around, so we got to see quite a bit. The main tombs inside the paid section looked impressive from behind the wrought iron fence. We peered through on several occasions but we didn’t see anyone walking around. We even went back to the ticket office several times but no one around. If we are honest, the whole set up felt a little weird. Almost like they had acquired UNESCO sticker and now they couldn’t be bothered to staff it.

With our visit to the tombs cut short we pondered about our next move. Do we stay on the dusty car park in the hope an attendant turns up or do we set off. Over a cup of coffee we debated and opted to set off. The drive to Rome was pretty quiet and within a couple of hours we were parked up on the sosta we stayed on 3 years ago. All ready to explore Rome…yeah

Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Rome GPS position: for N041.874844, E012.555284

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