Oh those silly, inscrutable Etruscans. In Cerveteri, about an hour bus from Rome there’s a huge Etruscan Necropolis. It was a stunning locale:
and a gorgeous day, perfect for a walk through huge tomb complexes that ranged from 1500-2500 or more years old. The Necropolis, much like Ostia Antica, is overgrown and not particularly guided, and at least on that day, little-visited, so we had the run of the place, much like this stray cow that startled me nearly to death:
It was quiet and the dark holes leading into the tomb mounds were both inviting, in that they piqued your curiosity and sense of adventure, and also, obviously, frightening. We (I was there with a group of friends who were almost all fellow art historians) decided that the park was sufficiently creepy to be the setting of a good horror movie, though unfortunately it was decided I would likely be offed first (because, of the two blonds present, I was the non-married one, ergo following horror movie convention I would be the first go to the great Etruscan Necropolis in the sky).
Particularly here in Lazio, nearby Umbria, and southern Tuscany there are lots of Etruscan sites and remains. And while Etruscan civilization was definitely no slouch, in contrast to the clarity, orderliness, and grandeur of the ruins of the later Roman republic and empire, it’s opaque and mysterious. Anytime I am confronted by Etruscan structures and foundations I am suffused by a sense of mystery; at the Necropolis I felt a mixture of curiosity and fear, that seemed to hang in the air, despite the sunshine on the most beautiful early January day.