Water routes

 

 

Water is the quintessential natural resource, a necessity for the existence, development, and prosperity of the planet and the men inhabiting it. For the Etruscans, as well as being necessary for life, water when conserved, channelled, and regimented, allowed the cultivation of cereals, fruit trees, and other agricultural produce. Surrounded by an aura of sacredness, water was worshipped at fountains and springs inhabited by healing deities, who also brought the gift of fertility to men and women. However, it also provided the most important communication and trade routes, ploughed by boats of all types, on seas and rivers. Lastly, the thermal waters, in which Etruria was so rich, forming a subtle boundary between the sacred world and the sphere of healing, mysterious prodigies of nature that offered the best way for men to sooth tired bodies and minds.

 

From CHIUSI to Tarquinia

 

CHIUSI and the Civic Museum La città sotterranea (the underground city): the labyrinth of underground tunnels excavated in the Etruscan period for draining, decanting, and collecting water for ancient CHIUSI. The Sentiero della Bonifica (Reclamation Pathway) which, in the heart of the Val di Chiana, crosses the ancient marshes. The lakes of CHIUSI and MONTEPULCIANO, an enchanting remembrance of the same marshes. The thermal springs of SARTEANO and SAN CASCIANO DEI BAGNI.

 

Orvieto and the labyrinth of grottoes and underground tunnels of Orvieto Underground, the bowels of the rock on which the city stands. The surprising historical-archaeological palimpsest formed by the basements of the Collegiate Church of Saints Andrew and Bartholomew. The underground route of Pozzo della Cava (Quarry well), with the ingenious structures of an Etruscan water supply system. The famous Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s well), an ambitious and masterly work, created in order to reach the precious water table at the heart of the rock.

 

The Nature Museum at Lubriano, starting point for the “Route of the waters, flowers, fruits, and edible plants”, leading into the heart of the Valle dei Calanchi, enhanced by the magical village of Civita di Bagnoregio.

 

Bolsena and its volcanic lake, the largest in Europe, known as the “drinkable lake” for its limpid and clean waters. The archaeological area of Poggio Moscini and the Turona Archaeological and Nature Park.

 

Viterbo and its rich hydromineral and hydrothermal basin, among the most copious in Italy, source of hot waters with extraordinary therapeutic properties, already known to the Etruscans, which gush and spout in a thousand natural springs. Il Bullicame, the most famous of these, with its sulphurous waters that rise in a lake, deep within a crater, quoted by the Dante in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, 14thcanto)

 

Tuscania and its nature reserve, sculpted by gullies and gorges in a beautiful landscape through which the river Marta, only emissary of Lake Bolsena, and its tributaries run, touching splendid Etruscan remains, hidden by the lush vegetation, such as the Tomb of the Portico.

 

Tarquinia and the water imagined by the Etruscans in the famous painted tombs of the Necropolis dei Monterozzi, such as the Tomb of Hunting and Fishing with its marine landscape of fish and water birds or the Tomb of the Blue Demons with the dark waters of the Acheron, the river of the dead. The delicate marsh ecosystem of the Saline Nature Reserve, at Tarquinia Lido where the rivers Marta and Mignone reach the Tyrrhenian Sea.

 

From Grosseto to Bolsena

 

Grosseto and Castiglione della Pescaia, modern heirs to the Etruscan cities of Roselle and Vetulonia, positioned so as to control the system of salt lagoons which, although protecting them, also put them in communication with the sea. The Maremma Natural Park at the mouth of the river Ombrone, near Alberese, with its evocative marsh landscape sacred to the goddess Diana. The WWF Oasis at Orbetello, the most important lagoon on the Tyrrhenian coast, where the migration routes of thousands of birds meet.

 

MANCIANO and the famous sulphureous thermal waters of Saturnia, known to the Etruscans, its beautiful natural pools, born, according to myth, out of a bolt of lightning thrown by Zeus. The Museum of Pre and Proto-history of Valle del Fiora.

 

FARNESE and the Selva del Lamone nature reserve, with its magical and rugged forest, the amazing waterfalls, and the Etruscan fortress of Rofalco. The prehistoric site of Sorgenti della Nova near the perennial spring in a grotto and the ancient objects found there, housed in the “F. Rittatore von Willer” Civic Archaeological Museum.

 

Once again at Bolsena, on the banks of the “drinkable lake”.

 

 

From Orvieto to Veio

 

The course of the river TIBER, sacred to Rome’s fate, with its clear waters that run from Orvieto down to the sea, passing by Bomarzo with its enigmatic rock-cut monuments hidden by the woods, Civita Castellana, the ancient Falerii capital of the Faliscan people, Capena, home to the ancient sanctuary of Lucus Feroniae, sacred to the fertile goddess of the pure spring waters and, lastly, close to Rome, the Nature Park of Veii and the evocative remains of the Etruscan city, one of the earliest and most powerful, that proudly fought Rome for dominion over the mouth of the Tiber and its saltpans.