With its Unesco-listed Etruscan tombs and its excellent museum, Cerveteri makes a splendid day trip from Rome.
Cerveteri, or Kysry to the Etruscans and Caere to Latin-speakers, was one of the most important commercial centres in the Mediterranean from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC. As Roman power grew, however, so Cerveteri’s fortunes faded, and in 358 BC the city was annexed by Rome.
The first half of the 19th century saw the first tentative archaeological explorations in the area and in 1911 systematic excavations began in earnest.
For information about the site, pay a visit to the extremely helpful tourist information point (06 995 52 637; Piazza Aldo Moro; 10am-12.30pm & 4.30-6.30pm summer, 10am-12.30pm winter). From here you can get an hourly shuttle bus to the Necropoli di Banditaccia (06 994 00 01; Via del Necropoli; admission €4, incl museum €6.50; 8.30am-6.30pm Tue-Sun summer, 8.30am-3.30pm Tue-Sun winter), the tomb complex 2km out of town. The bus leaves seven to nine times per day starting at 9am. The final shuttle is at 2.30pm between November and March and at 5pm from April to October. The trip takes five minutes and costs €0.80. Alternatively, you can follow the well-signposted road – it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk.
The tombs at the necropolis are built into tumoli (mounds of earth with carved stone bases), laid out in the form of a town, with streets, squares and terraces of ‘houses’. The result is a strange and haunting landscape. Signs indicate the path to follow and some of the major tombs, including the 6th-century-BC Tomba dei Rilievi, are decorated with painted reliefs of figures from the underworld, cooking implements and other household items.
Treasures taken from the tombs can be seen in Cerveteri’s medieval town centre at the Museo Nazionale di Cerveteri (06 994 13 54; Piazza Santa Maria; admission €4, incl necropolis €6.50; 8.30am-6.30pm Tue-Sun). On the same square is the Antica Locanda le Ginestre (06 994 06 72; Piazza Santa Maria 5; meals €45; Tue-Sun), a family-run restaurant that is considered to be one of the best in Lazio. The delicious food here is prepared with organically grown local produce and is served in the elegant dining room or flower-filled courtyard garden. You’ll need to book if you want a table on a weekend or holiday. For a cheaper alternative, try Cavallino Bianco (Piazza Risorgimento; Wed-Sun).
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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