Archeology Itinerary: Towns of Etruscan origin

Vase - orvieto Museum

Settlements and Population

Bettona – Vettona:

The present-day town of Bettona stands on the same site that it has occupied since ancient times, on the slopes of the Monti Martani, in a location near the confluence of the rivers Chiascio and Topino. After the social war it became part of the Clustumina tribe, inclusion in which was considered to be a “punitive” mark, indicating the town’s hostile attitude towards Rome. The finds discovered outside the town walls, which date back to the 4th century B.C., confirm Vettona’s clear inclination towards the Etruscan cultural sphere, so much so it was considered, with its “twin” Arna<, to be a proper bastion of the Perugian territories towards the areas on the right of the Tiber controlled by the Umbrian populations. Although the town is about 5 km from the route of the Via Amerina, ancient road itineraries indicate it as a stopping place (statio) along the aforementioned road on the stretch between Todi and Perugia.

Bettona - Ipogeo del Colle

In the town:
– Boundary wall
– Hypogeum in Colle

Environs:
– Torgiano: Wine Museum
– Deruta: Ceramics Museum

Civitella d’Arno – Arna The oldest testimonies originating from Arna, an Etruscan outpost near the Umbrian areas, are several Iron-Age fibulae, now part of the Bellucci Collection in the Archaeological Museum in Perugia. The flourishing state of the site is documented by the funeral hoards from a necropolis of the 2nd century B.C. discovered in the last century, and by the organization of its territory into rustic villas geared towards the agricultural utilization of the fertile area, which also included agrarian possessions (praedia) in imperial ownership. Nowadays only two Roman cisterns can be visited on the site. However, the epigraphic sources, together with the discovery of marble statues (Archaeological Museum in Perugia) and bronze statues (British Museum in London) also attest to the existence of a temple dedicated to the goddess Fortune.

In the town:
– Roman cisterns

Orvieto - Tempio del Belvedere

Orvieto – Volsinii Veteres

Identified as Valsinii Veteres, which the sources say was destroyed by the Romans in 264 B.C. after a long series of wars that began in the 4th century, the town looks out from the top of a volcanic tuff cliff over a fertile plain irrigated by the rivers Chiani and Paglia. In connection with this, it is worth pointing out the presence near Pagliano of structures pertaining to a river port. Volsinii was one of the most powerful towns in the Italic world, and its territory included the Fanum Voltumnae, in other words the great federal sanctuary of the Etruscan populations where the heads of the city-states (lucumonie) would assemble together.

The splendors of the Etruscan settlement, which are clearly defined thanks to the archaeological data provided by both urban and extra-urban excavations and discoveries, primarily from necropolises, are further exalted by details of the Roman triumphal displays to celebrate the great victory of M. Fulvius Flaccus over the Volsinii, and the fabulous booty of 2000 bronze statues sacked at the Fanum Voltumnae, some of which were part of the commemorative votive offering found in Rome near the ancient sacred area of Sant’Omobono, dedicated to Fortune and Mater Matuta.

In the town:
– Archaeological Museum in Piazza Duomo
– “C.Faina” Museum in Palazzo Faina
– Temple of the Belvedere
“Orvieto Underground”: the town’s hypogean network in the “Parco delle Grotte”
– Necropolis at Crocefisso del Tufo
– Necropolis at Cannicella

Environs:
– Necropolis at Settecamini: Golini tombs
– Castel Rubello: tomb of the Hescanas
– Harbour facilities near Pagliano
– Umbrian necropolis at Vallone di San Lorenzo near Montecchio

Temple of Sant. Angelo - Perugia

Perugia – Perusia

The ancient writers (Servius) knew that the town of Perugia was originally founded by the Sarsinati, a population that belonged to the stock of the Umbrians. However, the same Servius, together with other historians (Appianus for example), also mentions the legend of the foundation of Perugia by Aulestes, son of Ocnus, founder in his turn of Felsina, present-day Bologna. The settlement, which was established in a favorable position on a rise overlooking the flourishing Tiber plain, has thrown up sporadic archaeological testimonies relative to the most ancient periods. There is far more information available, on the other hand, as far as the Etruscan-Roman phase is concerned.

Mentioned by the sources as a town of ancient origins, one of the first of the twelve lucumonies of the Etruscan people, in the 4th century B.C. Perusia took shape as a well developed town with strong urban connotations, thanks to the construction of the imposing boundary wall, outside of which various necropolis areas lay (Sperandio, Conca, Monteluce, Ferro di Cavallo, Palazzone).

The street fabric inside the perimeter of the walls must have been characterized by road axes that ran in parallel and met at right angles creating a regular mesh of blocks. The present-day main roads broadly speaking follow the route of the old roads. There is proof of the existence of various temple buildings, both inside the urban center and outside the walls along important roads giving access to the town.

Temple of Sant. Angelo

With the extension of Roman citizenship to all Italics after the social war of 90-89 B.C., like many other urban centers in the Peninsula, Perugia too became a municipium and was integrated by full right into the Roman state, renewing its image according to the model of Rome.

It was on this occasion, and even more so after the city was set fire to during the Bellum Perusinum of 41-40 B.C. (Appianus, De bello civili V 129; 133) and the granting of the title of Augusta Perusia attested to by the epigraphs on the arch of Augustus and on the Porta Marzia, that the town witnessed a great flourishing of building activity, both at public and private level.

The pre-existing urban fabric, however, remained essentially unchanged. It is worth noting that in this period the built-up area began to expand outside the wall, even to areas that were formerly used for funerary purposes: this is the case, for example, with the thermal complex in the Conca district, of which a fine testimony remains in the shape of the black and white mosaic datable to the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. depicting the myth of Orpheus.

In the Christian epoch many churches, such as San Pietro, Sant’Angelo, San Costanzo and Sant’Ercolano, document the recycling of Roman buildings and/or precious architectural decorations.

Perugia

It is important to point out that in the Christian period too, continuing the expansion outside the Etruscan walls in which the city had played a leading role ever since the Roman phase, both the Rotunda of Sant’Angelo to the north, and the churches of San Pietro and San Costanzo in the southern area, chose locations along the important thoroughfares of ancient origin.

In the town:
– National Archaeological Museum of Umbria
– Boundary wall and gates
– Etruscan well
– Roman mosaic
– Rotunda of Sant’Angelo
– San Pietro
– Sperandio necropolis
– San Manno hypogeum
– Archaeological area in Piazza Cavallotti

Environs:
– Collection of archaeological finds at the municipal headquarters in Corciano
– Palazzone necropolis and the Volumni Hypogeum
– Strozzacapponi necropolis
Courtesy of Umbria 2000