Rome is a catalyst for attention, and with merit given the amount of beauty of all kinds it contains, but Lazio is much more: an ancient region, rich in stories and legends, all to be discovered and experienced.
Just a couple of hours away from the Capital is enough to be catapulted into the reality of Tarquinia, a microcosm that boasts ancient archaeological finds, a coastline where one can fully enjoy the sea and summer, a historic center rich in treasures, and a food and wine tradition of the highest level.
It is one of the municipalities that is part of the DMO Etruskey, an association created to tell the story of an extensive and varied territory, united by the cultural heritage of the Etruscans, a fascinating mix of ingenuity, welcome and hospitality.
12 municipalities, 31 private entities and an area spanning 1,300 km all to be told through a series of unique and personalized experiences.
Walking at the Queen’s Altar among stones thousands of years old
A dirt road winds through barren hills of a thousand shades of brown, typical of the Tarquinia area, and leads to the top of a plateau where only history and nature do the talking. In this surreal landscape of silences and vistas that stretch far beyond the eye, lies a unique archaeological site: theAra della Regina, the largest of the Etruscan temples known to date. It rises right on top of the Pian di Cìvita, near medieval Tarquinia, which can be glimpsed in the distance among the lonely, sun-drenched surrounding hills.
The site is closed normally, but can be visited by making arrangements with local guides (excellent services at www.etruriaguide.it and www.artemideguide.it ), who will tell you about Etruscan legends, rituals and prayers, cities lost in the folds of time, and artifacts rich in mystery.
All this while strolling among monumental boulders from the 6th century B.C., which have come down to the present day without telling us for what cult they were placed there, but still charged with a magnetic fascination. TheQueen’s Altar is a magical place that speaks of precious Etruscan history in a nature that, with its silences, conveys a sense of eternity that strikes straight to the heart.
Discovering the precious artifacts of the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia
When the doors of the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia seems to have stepped through a time portal: the sounds of the city, the streets, the cars and the modern era remain outside, and you are thrown back to the 15th century, the time when the Vitelleschi Palace which towers in Cavour Square and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the building is already a breathtaking work of art with its arches and courtyards, corridors and viewing terraces, wait until you visit its halls to be truly enchanted.
The National Archaeological Museum ‘s exhibition is organized in chronological sequence, traversing all eras of Etruscan history: starting on the ground floor, where stone materials are collected including precious sarcophagi dating from the mid-4th century B.C., and continuing upward through Roman and Etruscan artifacts, amphorae and jewelry, daggers and wine cups, tools and gold. Among the exhibition’s must-sees are the magnificent Winged Horses, found at the Queen’s Altar and an ancient temple decoration, and the beautiful Mithras Killing the Bull, a marble statue dedicated to one of the most mysterious mystery cults of antiquity.
And then, the highlight: the original frescoes from some of the nearly seven thousand tombs discovered in the Tarquinia area: the walls were literally dismantled from the Monterozzi necropolis, and reconstructed in the Museum’s protected rooms, and they leave one speechless with their incredible state of preservation.
Not only art and history: Tarquinia, land of good drink and good food
Oil, wine, bread, cereals: the Tarquinia area, due to its particular composition and proximity to the sea, is a true paradise for the growth of 100 percent natural products, grown by small local companies that are committed to enhancing and telling the story of the area.
If you want to enjoy a tasting with flair, and fall in love with Tarquinia’s peaceful countryside sloping down to the coast, treat yourself to a stop at Etruscaia: a piece of paradise founded by Lamberto and Olga, who since 2008 have been working steadily every day to grow a company that makes the wine production his workhorse.
On the estate, 600 meters from the sea, selective microvinifications of red wines such as pure Syrah and a blend based on Sangiovese and Merlot are grown, which Etruscaia now markets to great acclaim. To discover this reality, certified as organic since 2018, you can stay at one of the estate’s apartments, or arrange a personal tasting: sip whites, reds and rosés, all paired with dishes carefully designed to enhance their flavor, and prepared with the products the estate works with the wine, from oil to tomatoes, eggs and eggplant(www.etruscaia.it ).
Sea, sun and relaxation at the marina in Tarquinia
It only takes a few turns downhill to leave behind the Etruscans, Romans, gods and archaeology, and move to a weekend paradise of sea and relaxation: it’s Marina Velca, the coastal area of Tarquinia, where the beaches, and resorts overlooking the water, are located. Like Torre del Sole Hotel & Resort, a legend of hospitality in this area.
Everything is at your fingertips at the hotel, which is set in a two-hectare garden with 50 tall palm trees and a private lido that is also accessible to non-hotel guests. 40 rooms, an excellent restaurant with local specialties, swimming pools, sailing school and playground for the little ones are just some of the offerings at Torre del Sole, the perfect address for a tailor-made relaxing vacation.
And for the romantically inclined, the hotel is also a Very popular venue for those who dream of a special wedding, even on the dark beach washed by the sea: you can organize a ritual symbolic (an exchange of promises, though it has no legal value), and celebrate in this green corner that looks back to the medieval city of Tarquinia with all its immense and important history, and looks ahead to a sea that merges with the sky (www.torredelsole.it ).