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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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?
For kids: Vulca
For the family:
Here are stories to put you in a traveling mood:
Etruscan Sites - No Lines!
is an Etruscan city that has been excavated to
uncover its fascinating necropolis, city of the dead.
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
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
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
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.
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
say about the Italy Discovery Journal.
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
Vacation in Italy Resources
Vacation Rentals In Italy
2 + 2
Location, Central & Comfortable
Central, Arno View
bedrooms, 2.5 baths
Prati by Sant'Angelo
4 + 2
Florence on Chianti Estate
Sleeps 2 -12
Castle & Wine
Palazzo Santa Croce
2 - 8
Via del Corso
Siena, Patrician Villa and Farm,
2 - 6
btw Capitoline & Trastevere
& Fabulous Terrace
Sleeps 1 - 6
Class & Location
Sleeps 4 + 1
2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
Glorious Rooftop Terrace
Piazza Popolo, Rome
Sleeps 4+ 2
Colle di Val d'Elsa
to Hill Town
1 bedroom, 1
Value & Location for Small Family
btw Rialto - St Mark's
2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath
Real Noble Palace