Today, Vetulonia is a small village dominating the Grosseto plain, occupied in the Etruscan period by Lago Prile, a lagoon in connection with the sea which also overlooked the Etruscan city of Roselle. Over the centuries the Etruscan city lost its memory: only the nineteenth century excavations undertaken by Isidoro Falchi, a physician and archaeologist, led to the identification of the ancient Vetulonia with the village called Colonna di Buriano, which in 1887 regained its old name Vetulonia.
VETULONIA THE WALLS OF THE ARCE
The itinerary begins in the highest part of Vetulonia where the remains of the ancient Etruscan city walls that defended the fortress of the city (arce) are preserved. The walls, of which there are about 30 meters embedded between two tall medieval towers, are made with polygonal blocks, according to a construction technique widespread between the sixth and the second century. BC in Etruria and Lazio. According to a recent hypothesis, the wall erected at the beginning of the III century BC could instead be a podium to support a place of worship. In Piazza Vetluna is the Museo Civico Archeologico "IsidoroFalchi" In Piazza Renzetti, two epigraphs recall the return of the ancient name to Vetulonia. At the end of via Garibaldi, the main road, taking the left you arrive at the cemetery square where the entrance to the archeological area of ??Costia dei Lippi opens.
COST OF LIPPI
At Costa dei Lippi, excavations conducted since 1960 by the Archaeological Superintendence for Tuscany highlighted a series of regularly squared terraced walls and a road with polygonal slabs, oriented east-west, slightly sloping towards the east, in direction of the city. The terracing walls, before the road, are probably related to the buildings of a residential area of ??the Hellenistic age (III - I century BC). In fact, near one of these walls we find fragments of architectural terracottas, datable to the III-II century BC. C. It can not be excluded that the area can be identified with a stretch of the city walls, probably right at the entrance to the city. From Costia dei Lippi, via an uphill path, one enters Via Case di Siena where there is the entrance to the archaeological area of ??Costa Murata. COSTA MURATA The town of Costa Murata, already known in the late nineteenth century, has been the subject of excavations since the early years of the '900 and later between the end of the' 60s and 1979. The excavations led to the discovery of a road paved a series of houses decorated with architectural terracottas dating back to the Hellenistic age (III - I century BC). A rectangular building dating back to the II-I century is clearly visible. BC to be identified with a domus with a large atrium and central cistern; around the atrium are the rooms with openings located to the south. The area is frequented by the end of the seventh century a. C. until late-republican age. At the beginning it was probably destined to a sacred area, as the discovery of a votive stipe rich in Greek ceramics (VI-V century BC) is currently exposed to the Archaeological Museum of Vetulonia. Continuing along Via Garibaldi, leaving behind Vetulonia, not far from the town, the remains of the archaeological area called Scavi Città (Poggiarello Renzetti) are visible along the road. SCAVI CITTÀ From 1893 to 1896 Isidoro Falchi, the discoverer of Vetulonia, brought to light excavation campaigns following a large portion of the Etruscan settlement dating from the third to the first century BC. The district was crossed by a road, the "via Decumana", flanked on the right side by warehouses and atrium dwellings (a room overlooked by other rooms and accessed through an entrance flanked by two small rooms called fauces). On the other side of the Via Decumana there are structures (tanks, wells, sewers) related to the water system and water regulation of the neighborhood. Small crossroads, "via dei Ciclopi" and "via Ripida", divide the town into blocks and head towards the top of Poggiarello Renzetti. Along the "Via Ripida" a domus with atrium, known as the "Domus di Medea" has been unearthed, where decorative terracottas have been found, illustrating the myth of Medea, exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Vetulonia. At the end of the street The excavations of another large house called "Domus dei Dolii" are still under way. A large room was used for the storage of food reserves, kept in large jars (dolia) still found standing and perhaps (the part paved in stone) to produce oil. The adjoining room C constituted the triclinium, where the gentlemen found themselves eating their meals on the convivial beds (klinai) with marble furnishings, plasterwork painted on the walls and flooring in earthenware pesto; the compartment D could constitute the atrium of the house, oriented with the entrance in the direction of the Via dei Ciclopi. The material recovered (III-I century BC) allows to fix the date of destruction of the domus in the first decades of the first century BC. The whole area was abandoned in the first century. BC, following a fire of which traces remain, perhaps in conjunction with the actions of retaliation operated by Silla against the Etruscan cities that had lined up with Mario, the day after his victory in the Civil War. In front of the entrance to the archaeological site of Scavi Città, on the other side of the road are the remains of a large wall built with polygonal stone blocks, perhaps part of a boundary wall or a containment structure of the overlying district.
THE VIA DEI SEPOLCRI
Continuing along the same road and turning right at the junction marked by the tourist signs, take a non-asphalt path to the left that descends to the valley. We are on the "Via dei Sepolcri" which leads to the monumental tombs.
TOMB OF BELVEDERE
The first tomb on the left is the Belvedere tomb, which can be dated between the end of the seventh and sixth centuries. BC This is a quadrangular chamber structure with a short entry dromos. The architrave is still preserved, while nothing remains of the underlying stone slab that closed the burial chamber. In the funeral chamber small niches open to welcome the buried ones. The pseudocupola that covered the entire building has completely collapsed.
A few hundred meters, on the right of the dirt road, is the Tomba della Pietrera. The tomb, which takes its name from the use perpetuated for centuries as a stone quarry, is the largest funeral monument of Vetulonia. This is an anomalous case of two overlapping tombs: the first building, the lower one with a circular funeral chamber, built in the third quarter of the 7th century. BC, collapsed during construction or immediately after, perhaps due to the use of unsuitable material. Once the first tomb has been filled, because it can no longer be used, it was undertaken in the last quarter of the 7th century. aC the construction of a second set above the first, with quadrangular chamber and dromos of access, to whose walls two small opposing cells were opened. The structure was covered by a pseudocupola supported by a central pillar still preserved; everything was surmounted by a mound of earth.
DIAVOLINO'S TOMB 2
Continuing along the Via dei Sepolcri, about 400 meters is the tomb of the Diavolino 2, coeval to the Tomb of Pietrera. The tomb of the Diavolino 1 was dismantled and rebuilt in the garden of the Archaeological Museum of Florence at the end of 1800. The burial chamber has a quadrangular shape with at its corners the pendentives on which the slabs sticking out of the pseudocupola were grafted. The roof is preserved only in the lower part, the upper part is restoration work; The central pillar of which only the Alberese stone base is preserved is also rebuilt. The funeral chamber is accessed via a long dromos partly uncovered and with a lintel door.