Cerveteri's Etruscan city of dead set to wow visitors

UNESCO world heritage site the Etruscan Necropolis of Banditaccia at Cerveteri north of Rome is gearing to amaze visitors with a July inauguration showcasing previously closed tombs and a new welcome center, officials told ANSA this week.

Cerveteri's Etruscan city of dead set to wow visitors
Previously closed Tomb of the Painted Lions to open to public [Credit: ANSA]
Thanks to a 2.3-million-euro collaborative investment of European Union and Italian State funds, the three-millennia-old Banditaccia is getting an upgrade and plans to show off the latest renovations at the July 4 inauguration of its new Visitor Center. One July highlight will be the re-opening of the Tomb of the Painted Lions, a 7th-century BC tomb once frescoed with lions, which have since faded away due to exposure, along with other previously closed tombs.

Additionally, Banditaccia's long-neglected pedestrian paths have been cleaned up for the upcoming inauguration, including 'La Passeggiata di Lawrence', a pathway named after writer DH Lawrence whose book Etruscan Places inspired the site's rediscovery.

Both weather and grave robbers have repeatedly contributed to the site's degradation over the decades, which the Banditaccia project aims to rectify with the addition of 80 surveillance cameras and an evening illumination.

Over the next 18 months, the Banditaccia project also will add an interactive multi-media experience, new itineraries, and visitor facilities upgrades such as a restaurant and bathrooms.

Cerveteri's Etruscan city of dead set to wow visitors
Etruscan site at Cerveteri [Credit: Mike Wilson]
Lorenzo Croci, Cerveteri's sustainable-development councilor, hopes that the upgrades will double visitors to the heritage site, considered the cradle of Etruscan civilization with its more than 1000 tombs.

"Few people know this but this is the largest archaeological site in the world, even bigger than the Valley of the Kings in Egypt", Croci told ANSA, adding "today we have 65,000 annual visitors. "We want double that, and for the site to receive the recognition it deserves," he said.

The Etruscans lived mainly between the rivers Tiber and Arno in modern-day Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, in the first millennium BC.

By the sixth century BC they had become the dominant force in central Italy, but repeated attacks from Gauls and Syracusans later forced them into an alliance with the embryonic Roman state, which gradually absorbed Etruscan civilization.

Most of what is known about the Etruscans derives from archaeology as the few accounts passed down by Roman historians tend to be hostile, portraying them as gluttonous and lecherous.

This problem is compounded by the fact that Etruscan cities were built almost entirely of wood and so vanished quickly, leaving little for archaeologists to investigate.

Author: Erica Firpo | Source: ANSA [June 05, 2014]

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