Margaret Skinner

Etruscan Heartlands

Margaret Skinner
Etruscan Heartlands

Adagio – ‘slowly, in a leisurely way’ says my Italian dictionary. I think all seventeen of us on this first Adagio holiday wondered quite how our week in Italy would turn out.  We began to get to know each other and our leader, Kath, on the ninety minute coach drive north from Rome airport. Our destination was Viterbo, a fascinating Etruscan town which most of us admitted we had never heard of before!  And who exactly were the Etruscans?  In a delightfully leisurely fashion we were to learn a little more about these pre-Roman settlers during our week spent wandering and sight-seeing in this area of Italy.  A glance at the map shows that it is squeezed between Rome to the south and Tuscany to the north.

 

On our first day we discovered that some of the Etruscans certainly had a wonderful sense of humour! A thirty minute bus ride and a few minutes’ walk took us to the curious Garden of Monsters at Bomarzo. Our priority of course was to enjoy a coffee while sitting on the terrace cafe, but then we strolled round this extensive site and enjoyed both the views and the eccentric features of the garden.

 

 Another local bus took us to Tuscania, where we had the opportunity to explore an extraordinary complex of Etruscan tombs. Quite how the pre-Christian inhabitants managed to construct quite such elaborate structures is a mystery.  But there was no mystery about the other delights of this small town where some explored the museum and others strolled around the narrow streets and sampled the bars and coffee shops.

 

 Local trains took us to Bagnaia and to Bracciano; our leader Kath had all the train times to hand and bought all the tickets … we just had to turn up on time!  The gardens of Villa Lante at Bagnaia were spectacular. How exactly did these people manage to construct such a complex system of water features so long ago? Some of us explored the narrow streets of the medieval heart of the town, and all celebrated Easter Monday with drinks and Italian pastries.

 

 

 This is a region to delight geologists, and at Bracciano we were able to walk by Lake Bracciano, one of the crater lakes formed tens of thousands of years ago when the top of a volcano collapsed. Some of the group chose to remain in the upper part of the town, enjoying the views of lake and castle.

 

 Each day we had a little time to explore aspects of Viterbo itself, either independently or with our leader, Kath.  With our hotel only a stone’s throw from the town centre, we could visit the churches, the museum, the fascinating underground caves, the mediaeval quarter and the local shops.

 

 So indeed, we explored ‘slowly, and in a leisurely way’.  But we managed to explore an amazing variety of aspects of this delightful and often neglected region. The Etruscans certainly chose the location of their heartland with care and skill.

 

If this Adagio leisurely walking holiday appeals to you then please have a look at our other holidays at www.adagio.co.uk