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Mysterious Etruscans
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Kids Europe
Mysterious Etruscans )
Kids Europe Newsletter
in this issue

Dear Pat,

The Etruscan civilization thrived in Italy before the Wolf of Rome dominated the peninsula. Its not hard to guess the origin of the name Tuscany.

Their culture was sensuous, barbaric, and artistic, but much is mysterious about this fascinating civilization.

Here we offer some information and resources on the Etruscans, about Tuscany today, and some great places where you can stay in Tuscany.

Please freely forward this Discover Italy Newsletter in its entirety. At the very bottom of the newsletter on the left you will find a little forward link that makes it easy. (c) Copyright Kids Europe 2005.

Pat Byrne
Lost World of the Etruscans

The Etruscan civilization has many mysteries even though it was a foundation Italian culture and language. Among the mysteries of the Etruscans, is their language. Scholars can pronounce the words, but they don't know what most of them mean, nor do they understand how the grammar works. There have been no Rosetta stones for Etruscan, nor have any long texts survived. This is all in spite of the fact that elements of the Etruscan language survive in today's Italian language and, doubtless, in the Italian spirit.

Much has been learned about Etruscan life, however, because of the many ancient Etruscan necropoli, cities of the dead (don't call them graveyards!), that are very much worth visiting. Some tombs are like little houses with furniture. Others are like small hills. Paintings and sculptures survived inside the tombs and show Etruscan life and culture.

Thre are fascinating Etruscan necropoli throughout Tuscany and at many places north of Rome, including Tarquinia and Cerveteri. The Villa Giulia museum in Rome has the world's best Etruscan collection. For families, however, I think running around outside in the necropoli may be more interesting than seeing the collections inside.

If you studied the Etruscan period in school, it was probably for about ten minutes and was quickly overshadowed by Rome. We recommend easily absorbing a sense of the Etruscans by watching these two videos:

Tuscany Today

Be prepared to appreciate the beauty of the rolling fields and hill towns of Tuscany that you can visit on your trip. Why do you think the towns perched on the tops of hills with walls around them?

Reading List

For kids: Vulca the Etruscan

For the family:

Here are stories to put you in a traveling mood:

Visiting Etruscan Sites - No Lines!

Cerveteri is an Etruscan city that has been excavated to uncover its fascinating necropolis, city of the dead.

Populonia is a beautiful little town on the water near Pisa. It has an Etruscan necropolis that was, at one time, entirely covered by Etruscan slag, the remains from iron smelting. You can still pick up pieces of the slag on the beach which consists of, not sand, but fine iron particles. The Etruscan smelting process in 500BC was not as efficient as today's furnaces, so the slag itself is very high in iron. In fact, it was one of the major sources of iron in Italy in the early 1900s! The ruins of the massive Rocca di Populonia fortress from the 1300s sits above the town and is a good spot for a picnic and clambering about the ancient walls. Populonia is a great place to spend a couple of hours if you are driving from the south towards Pisa.

Etruscan sites like Populonia, Tarquinia, Cerveteri, and many more are somewhat off the beaten tourist path. They get plenty of visitors, but it is unlikely that you will have to wait in the lines that grow around the most popular tourist sites. Etruscan art and culture, that borrowed from the Greeks and lent to the Romans, has unique and charming aspects that are fascinating to explore, even just a little. I am touched by the sarcophagi, stone coffins, that show man and wife cuddled happily together. You never see such scenes in Greek or Roman art. Compare features and expressions with Roman statues and you'll see interesting differences, such as the impish smiles on the faces of the Etruscans.

 
Tuscan Holiday Apartments in an Ancient Convent

We like the setup of this "villa" in Tuscany for vacationing families. It is an ancient convent that has been converted into ten holiday apartments. There is an inviting swimming pool set in 30 acres of orchards and fields. At the same time, it is a five minute walk to the medieval town of Colle di Val d'Elsa (between Florence and Siena). Early risers can walk or jog into town for the morning's bread; teenagers can get away and explore the town; and you can walk into the piazza to enjoy the evening's stroll, passegiatta, with the townsfolk.

The apartments are comfortably rustic in style with simple furniture, terracotta floors, and wood-beamed or brick-vaulted ceilings. The kitchenettes are modern and efficient. Furthermore, most of the apartments are air conditioned and also have window screens, so you can enjoy the hottest days in August. Each apartment has its own outside dining area for eating al fresco. The apartments are fresh, clean, and have great amenities including satellite television so you can get the news in English.

They come in one size: one bedroom with sofa bed, so are good for couples, a family of three or four, or a group of several families. The price is reasonable at 115 Euros/night for a family of four (about $160US) and they do take stays of less than a week, minimum four nights.

Eat like an Etruscan

Pasta with Wild Boar Sauce is a delicious and typical Tuscan dish. Hunting is a popular sport in the hills of Tuscany. Try delicious Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Wide Noodles with Wild Boar), something you won't find in your local Italian restaurant!

Tuscan bread is made without salt so it tastes different than Italian breads you find elsewhere. Without salt, the bread lasts only the day you buy it. No wonder so many Tuscan dishes work with stale bread: panzanella - bread and tomato salad, ribollita - bread and vegetable soup, fettunta or bruschetta - toasted bread with yummy things on top.

The Italy Discovery Journal has a dozen pages devoted to food ideas for kids traveling in Italy. All in all, there are over 500 ideas to enliven family travel in Italy. Learn what customers say about the Italy Discovery Journal.

Ultimate Luxury in Florence, Tuscany

I have just begun representing this villa and thought you would enjoy feasting your eyes on its luxury. It is inside the city limits of Florence, yet in a heavenly verdant garden, inside a park. The interior is sumptuous in every degree. Furthermore, it comes with a full-time domestic to cook and clean.

The Villa Arcangeoli welcomes families and I can imagine a joyous reunion in this lovely setting. Can you?

Family Vacation in Italy Resources
 

 

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