(Please click on photographs to see more Castles and Lakes Photographs in our gallery)
After a pleasant drive through the Roman countryside, we will arrive in the village of Bracciano where you will have the opportunity to visit the impressive Odescalchi Castle. Tickets are 7 Euros per person which also includes a guided tour of the castle with a small group of no more than 15 English speaking people.
This 16th century castle is in unbelievable condition and still owned by the Odescalchi family. The castle became famous worldwide when American film star Tom Cruise married his lovely bride, Katie Holmes at the castle in November, 2006. The guided tour will lead you to the tower where you will be treated to a spectacular view of the lake.
After visiting the castle, you will have ample free time to stroll through the quaint village for sight seeing or shopping for local crafts, wine, olive oil or other delicacies. You may even happen upon an outdoor market taking place right in front of the castle!
A drive to the lake shore will follow so that you can see the dazzling beauty of Bracciano Lake from the promenade along the beach. Originally a volcanic crater, this one of the cleanest lakes in Italy due to the absence of motor boats and strict rules against pollution. Its beaches attract visitors who prefer to relax, swim, sail, canoe, and generally escape hustle and bustle of most crowded seaside beaches. After your lakeside cappuccino or other beverage of your choice, it will be time to take the short drive to nearby Ceri.
is a 13th century town with fortified walls that gives it the appearance of a medieval fortress isolated on top of a steep hill of tufa
, a type of limestone that is very common in Italy, and primarily used by the ancient Etruscans
for their tombs, as you will soon discover in Cerveteri
Its medieval past dominating the present becomes apparent the moment we arrive at the bottom of the hill. The only street that passes through the fortified wall and leads you into town is wide enough for just a single vehicle to pass through at a time. This rare traffic problem was resolved by installing two traffic lights: one at the entrance into town, and one where the street ends in the main square.
After reaching the main square, you will have the opportunity to visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Ceri
, which was built on an ancient site where Etruscans and Romans venerated the pagan goddess Vesta
. This Sanctuary is a very special place for the locals. The Virgin Mary for whom this Sanctuary is named is known for her intercession and helping people who are experiencing difficulties.
After a delicious traditional Italian lunch, you will be given the opportunity to visit the captivating town square for a stroll and sight seeing.
After this, we will drive a short distance to Cerveteri
In the heartland of former Etruria
is one of the greatest archaeological sites in Europe: the Banditaccia Necropolis
. Located on the outskirts of Cerveteri, the Banditaccia Necropolis has been declared by UNESCO
a World Heritage Site
along with the Monterozzi Necropolis
One of the most fascinating characteristics of this necropolis is that it spans over 6 centuries
of the Etruscan civilization, making this the largest city of the dead in the Mediterranean area. You can see the progression of the early 9th Century BC Villanovan
rock-cut trenches containing urns, to the complex 3rd century BC city-like planning of tombs with roads for processions. From primitive pottery ossuaries to elaborate hut shaped tombs carved out of the living tuffa rock and rich in structural details, you can see ancient cultural and architectural advancements unfold all around you.
Although none of the Etruscan homes survived to this day, you can see the types of homes Etruscans lived in just by walking into their tombs! Considered permanent homes for the dead, the tombs were carved to resemble the interior of residential homes, lavishly designed with gabled roof, crossbeam, stone couches, chairs, and other architectural details.
Of the many tombs you will visit, the most famous is the 4th century BC Tomb of the Reliefs
that includes multiple funerary niches and relief carvings on the walls representing weapons as well as religious and domestic objects.
Just a short distance outside of Rome
, the region of Lazio
possesses some of Italy’s greatest historical and archaeological treasures that are nestled in a picturesque landscape that is nothing short of a slice of heaven.
We thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours
for your guided tours in Rome and beyond, and we wish you safe and happy travels!
The necropolis near Cerveteri, known as Banditaccia, is significant not only because it is the largest ancient necropolis in the Mediterranean area, but also because it contains some of the only examples of Etruscan residential architecture surviving to this day.
CERVETERI BANDITACCIA ETRUSCAN NECROPOLIS
To the Etruscans it was known as Cisra
) is the Latin name given by the Romans
The tombs date from the 9th century BC (Villanovan culture
) to the late Etruscan age (3rd century BC). The most ancient ones are in the shape of a pit, in which the ashes of the dead were housed; also simple potholes are present.
From the Etruscan period are two types of tombs: the mounds
and the so-called "dice", the latter being simple square tombs built in long rows along "roads". The visitable area contains two such "roads", the Via dei Monti Ceriti
and the Via dei Monti della Tolfa
(6th century BC).
The mounds are circular structures built in tuff
, and the interiors, carved from the living rock, house a reconstruction of the house of the dead, including a corridor (dromos
), a central hall and several rooms.
The most recent tombs date from the 3rd century BC. Some of them are marked by external cippi
, which are cylindrical for men, and in the shape of a small house for women. Etruscan phallic symbols. "Cippi
" indicating that tomb occupants were male
Thousands of tombs exist in the vast cemetery of Cerveteri: they are organized in a city-like plan, with 'streets', small squares and 'neighbourhoods'. The tombs are of different types depending on period, family status and other criteria.
The earliest known are series of rock-cut trenches holding pottery ossuaries containing the ashes of the deceased. Most famous are the tumuli - tombs often containing more than one tomb under an imposing mound. A famous example is known as the 'Hut Shaped Tomb
', from the 4th century. It presents an excellent rock-cut hut with all structural and building elements, such as gabled roof, main crossbeam, wood and straw roofing materials as well as stone couches next to the walls. This tomb and others, imitating houses, are the best and only evidence of the residential architecture of the Etruscans.
The 6th-century Tomb of the Greek Vases
is accessible through a rock-cut dromos
(corridor) that imitates an Etruscan temple. The Tomb of the Moulding
(cornice) has two thrones with footstools, cut in the rock, at the sides of its door. It also imitates a contemporary domestic interior. The Tomb of the Capitals
has an imitation wooden floor on its ceiling.
The most famous among the thousands of the Banditaccia tombs is the 'Tomb of Reliefs
'. This 4th-century tomb is accessible via a long rock-cut stairway leading to a large hall with a ceiling supported by two columns with Aeolic capitals. It includes 13 double funerary niches and additional place for 34 bodies on a specially carved ledge. The 13 niches have double cushions with red painted stucco. Many objects are depicted on the stuccoed walls, including weapons and domestic and religious ones.
The earliest major settlements at Cerveteri date from between the 9th and 8th centuries BCE and are characteristic of the Villanovan period. At least two villages were established during this time, as evidenced by the finds of biconical and hut shaped cinerary urns at the oldest Necropolis areas of Cava della Pozzolana
. Trading with the Euboean Greeks commenced in the mid 8th century BCE with Etrusco -Geometric vessels becoming more common in the grave-goods. From the 7th century BCE onwards, Caere
underwent rapid demographic development, becoming Etruria's chief trading centre. By the beginning of the seventh century, Euboean influence had been replaced by that of the Corinthian and other Greek colonies which had been established in Southern Italy and Sicily.
The Banditaccia Necropolis
is significant not only because it is the largest ancient necropolis in the Mediterranean area, but also because it contains some of the only examples of Etruscan residential architecture surviving to this day. There are literally thousands of tombs within it, arranged in a plan laid out with city-esque efficiency - there are not only streets and squares, but whole neighbourhoods. The tombs come in many different forms - some are trenches cut into the rock; others take the shape of huts or houses rich in structural detail
This marks the end of your Castles and Lakes Tour with Stefano Rome Tours. We thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your tours and shore excursions in Rome and beyond. We look forward to seeing you soon in Italy!