Necropolis of Cerveteri

The necropolis of Cerverteri is reputedly the finest site of its kind in Etruria and anywhere in the Mediterranean basin and has deservedly been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UNESCO justification for inscribing the Cerveteri and Tarquinia sites is given here. This site and the nearby necropolis of Tarquinia (about 25 minutes’ drive away) have a very informative and well-illustrated website in English. This provides all the practical information you are likely to need, including opening times and prices. The Cerveteri ticket admits you to both the necropolis and the nearby museum, but you have to buy a separate ticket for Tarquinia.

Cerverteri is a short and very pleasant jaunt up the Via Appia from Rome. As you approach the necropolis, you can see why the Etruscans chose this spot: apart from being a major world archaeological site, it is enticingly located on a slight elevation in a beautiful landscape with the flat Lazio coastline a glittering strip in the distance. A large car park is provided near the entrance to the necropolis.

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After entering the site, you are free to wander around at will and encouraged to attend the screening of a short 3D film in Italian about the site. This is not compulsory, but well-worth doing for its visual impact alone even if you don’t understand Italian.

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After the film, a guide will take you into a couple of the tombs that have been wired with multimedia wizardry. As you stand in the dark, unadorned tombs, they begin to come to life with superimposed flickering lamps, colourful designs and artifacts to give you an idea of what a burial must have been like in Etruscan times.

One of the most interesting things about  the site is that the block-like tumuli, known as dadi in Italian, were not built up from ground level. Instead the Etruscans dug down into the layer of volcanic tufa to create pathways, leaving the tumuli standing between them: the deeper the paths, the higher the mounds.

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This is definitely the most hi-tech of the Etruscan sites: the glass cases in the museum, located at Piazza Santa Maria 00053 Cerveteri, also work as touchscreens. More information can be found here.

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A visit to the Cerverteri and  Tarquinia sites is a wonderful day out that children will enjoy as much as adults. Both necropolises can easily be visited in a day from Rome.