The itinerary combines stunning gorge scenery and fascinating archaeological discoveries. A Roman road winds through the ruined temples and market place of Etruscan Vulci. Then on through holm oaks and wild olive trees to the stunning waterfall at Lake Pellicone, look out for kingfisher at the water's edge.
The Castello della Badia (13th century) where the Museo Nazionale Vulcente, the National Archaeological Museum is located, stands on the verge of a plunging gorge where a wonderful ancient stone bridge, the Ponte dell' Abbadia (abbey bridge) spans the River Fiora at a height of 32 m. The bridge can be crossed on foot and affords a spectacular view of the Fiora river and the now heavily forested area of Vulci.
After crossing the bridge, continue straight ahead past a private garden. Ignore the branch down left for the bridge, and go on to join an unsurfaced road. Then, in the vicinity of tomb clusters from different periods, proceed uphill to the parking area and western gate for the Civita.
There is a stunning stretch of original dark basalt paving laid by the Romans presumably over the earlier Etruscan route. Running east-west, this main axis leads all the way downhill and out the eastern gate to a meadow.
At the river's edge is the Ponte Rotto or broken bridge, where the road crossed the Fiora to the necropolises on the opposite bank.
Follow the river along to the left. A dirt track is soon reached hence entrance to the Tomba François.
From the picnic area near the sandbank, proceed northwards a little way back from the river. More fenced enclosures are traversed then the path climbs via wooden steps. This is a delightful section high above the river with beautiful views down into the stunning gorge.
A short descent follows-through wood to a side valley. Backtrack briefly to a further flight of wooden steps up through a wood of glossy dark green holm oak, and keep right at the top along the cliff edge. Follow the hedge and fence left around private property to rejoin the path and the strada Etrusca, and return right across to the Castello della Badia and back to the museum.
Castello della Badia
Vulci, strada Etrusca
The museum also has an extraorinary selection of bronze and ceramic objects such as curious hut-shaped urns, some beautiful samples of bid bucchero ware, mirrors and anatomieal ex voto objects.
The Tombs of Vulci date from the 8th Century B.C. The frescoes of one of its tombs, called the François Tomb after its discoverery, show early scenes from Etruscan history. These paintings, which date from the 4th-3rd century, were detached and taken to the Museo Torlonia in Rome. From other tombs came remarkable stone sculptures and imported Greek vases.
The Francois tomb is so named after its discovery in 1857 by Florentine archaeologist Alessandro Francois and French historian Adolphe Noël des Verges.
A nearby World Wildlife Fund Oasis which provides refuge for otters and water fowl can also be visited, as can Castro, another Etruscan site. The reserve, Oasi WWf di Vulci was set up in 1982 and is situated about 1 km west of the museum, only 15 min on foot. Open for guided visits Sunday at l0 am and 3 pm, from August through to April.
The town grew in importance under the Farnese, who rebuilt the old medieval town, but when Castro fell in 1649, Canino was sold to Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Luciano. He made improvements to the town and restored the thermal baths at Musignano, where he had his summer residence. The maze-like medieval quarter Le Buche, which retains its original paving, has an interesting large public wash-housebuilt by the Farnese. In the main Piazza De Andreis stands the late 18th-century church of Santi Andrea e Giovanni Battista, in which Luciano Bonaparte is buried. The Via Cavour, lined with fine palaces bearing the Farnese crest, leads to Piazza Mazzini (the castle square). Another good, porticoed palace, Palazzo Miccinelli stands in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. At the end of the street is the Church of the Santa Croce: a very old structure in the Romanesque style, recently restructured, and is extremely rich in works of art and fascinating paintings, including the splendid fresco depicting the Deposizione, painted in the 16th century. The Farnese castle at the entrance to the old town is noted for the Paul III Tower(after the Farnese pope believed to have been born here). Nearby stands Palazzo Bonaparte. The late 15th-century monastery of San Francesco, built just outside the centre of the city during the 1400’s, lies at the northern end of the town. It is home to some stunning frescoes, including La Madonna con Bambino e Santi (The Madonna with Baby and Saints) and Saint’Antonio da Padova (Saint Antonio of Padova).
Still outside the city of Canino are the ruins of the ancient Church of the Madonna del Tufo: dating back to the 1300’s and 1400’s, it is today completely abandoned. In the 19th century however, it held some importance as the burial place of those who died from a tremendous epidemic of typhus fever.
The hills that surround Canino reach the Riserva Naturale Selva del Lamone and are cultivated with grapes and olive, the famous olive oil extra vergine di oliva, from the Canina olive variety.
The picturesque ruins of ancient Castellardolie 2 km out of Canino along the road to Ischia.
Another interesting excursion can be made along the road from Canino to the coast, via Musignano. The first 14 km bring us to Luciano Bonaparte's villa and scattered remains of the Roman baths.
A further Etruscan site, Castro, lies some 20 km further inland from Vulci, on the road that joins Pitigliano and Farnese. From Vulci take the road for Ischia di Castro, and follow the yellow signposting.
A stronghold of Etruscan origin, Castro reached its peak in the C7- 6 BC as a city dependant on the city-state of Vulci. The necropoli, located on the hilly around the modern city of Castro, provide the only proof of the existence of the ancient settlement. The numerous tombs, that for centuries preserved unimaginable treasures, are worth a visit.
Montalto di Castro
The road leading to the town is dominated by the mass of Castello Guglielmi, a medieval castle built by the Orsini, and restored in the XIXth century by the Guglielmi, a rich family of Civitavecchia. The ancient heart of the castle consists of an imposing quadrangular tower.
Walking along via Vulci, you will come to a door in the northern section of the walls. From here, you can access piazza Felice Guglielmi, which is overlooked by the neoclassical facade of Santa Croce. The inside has a single nave, and above the altar, preserved inside a glass case, is an exquisite painting, showing La Madonna della Vittoria.
If you take via Soldatelli, you end up in front of the eighteenth century facade of the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta.
Walking in Tuscany | Walking through nature reserves in the Maremma
For Vulci see also www.vulci.it which also provides downloadable maps, detailed descriptions of itineraries.
A nearby World Wildlife Fund Oasis provides refuge for otters and water fowl, and can also be visited, as can Castro, another Etruscan site.
For those who prefer a wilder environment, the ideal place is the Selva del Lamone, close to the boundary of Tuscany. The wood is very thick, quite impenetrable in some areas, but there are many bridle paths allowing the visitor to discover the area either on horseback or on a mountain-bike. Not far away is the charming Mezzano lake.
Riserva Naturale Selva del Lamone | Itineraries in the Regional Nature Reserve of Selva del Lamone (it)
Comune Montalto Di Castro (eng) (it)
Orari servizio di trasporto urbano | Public transport
Mappa di Montalto di Castro | Map