Italy: In the Path of the Etruscans
Rome’s Etruscan and the Vatican Etruscan Museums, Orvieto and Cotona hill towns, Volterra’s Etruscan Museum, and Glorious Florence
with Professor Steven Tuck
June 13 – 24, 2023
Why travel on Far Horizons’ Etruscan Tour ?
- Led by award-winning Steven L. Tuck, a lecturer for The Great Courses
- Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Rome, Cerveteri, Tarquinia, and Florence
- Private tour of the hypogeum of Clepsina at Cerveteri with archaeologists, normally closed to the public
- Private tour at Volterra and its museum with archaeological staff
- Limited to a maximum of 14 participants
(click to enlarge)
The Etruscan Tour – Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Rome.
Day 3: Rome.
Day 4: Cerveteri, Tarquinia.
Day 5: Orvieto.
Day 6: Chiusi.
Day 7: Perugia.
Day 8: Cortona.
Day 9: Arezzo.
Day 10: Volterra.
Day 11: Florence.
Day 12: Fly back to the USA.
The ancient civilization of Etruria was established by the 7th century BC and covered what is now modern-day Tuscany and Umbria. They are credited with influencing Rome’s architecture and ritual practice and for a period Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings. The Etruscans maintained extensive trade networks, built impressive fortified cities, fashioned exquisite art, and created a culture that, while deeply connected to the Greeks and Romans, had striking contrasts. Their civilization reached its peak during the 6th century BC, but in 264BC, they were finally conquered by the Romans.
Begin in Rome to visit the National Etruscan Museum and the Gregorian Etruscan Museum located within the Vatican City Museums. Then move north to see two rarely-visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Cerveteri, the largest necropolis in ancient Mediterranean, and Tarquinia, with decorated and painted tombs. Walk through Orvieto, one of the most striking of Italy’s hill towns. Enter Volumnus Hypogeum in Perugia, the tomb of a wealthy family of Etruscan nobility. Stroll the medieval streets of Cortona, enter the Roman Amphitheater in Arezzo, see the fascinating displays in Volterra’s Museo Etrusco Guarnacci, and wander through the shops of Florence’s Ponte Vecchio.
Learn about the Etruscan World as told by Professor Steven Tuck of The Great Courses fame.
Etruscan Tour Leader
Steven L. Tuck is a highly regarded Associate Professor in Classics and the History of Art at Miami University. After earning his B.A. in History and Classics at Indiana University, he received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Tuck is continually recognized as an excellent educator by Miami University, earning the Outstanding Professor Award three years in a row only to be recognized in 2013 with their highest honor for innovative and effective undergraduate teaching: the E. Phillips Knox award. He has published widely in international journals on both Greek and Roman Art forms, social and political history, and archaeology. Dr. Tuck’s most recent monograph A History of Roman Art was published in 2015 through Blackwell Publishing and we also recommend his previous work on Latin epigraphy: Latin Inscriptions in the Kelsey Museum: The Dennison and De Criscio Collections. Dr. Tuck teaches the recently-released 24-part series The Mysterious Etruscans with The Great Courses, which makes him an ideal leader for this unique journey.
‘Steve is an excellent leader and teacher. He really cared about everyone’s understanding the material.’ – Jeanne Marie Stumpf-Carome
‘Steve was superb, simply superb, both from a professional and personal viewpoint.’ – Carole Ross
‘I truly feel he had empathy for each one of us and our interests. Steve made us feel part of an adventure with him.’ – Emilia Chaffee
The Etruscans Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive into Rome by mid-morning. After lunch on our own and some time to rest, visit the National Etruscan Museum. Housed in the Renaissance-era Villa Giulia, this museum contains the greatest Etruscan collection in all of Italy including the famous Sarcophagus of the Spouses, an almost life-sized terracotta funerary coffer from the late 6th century BC. Conclude the day with a stop by the Mausoleum of Augustus, built in 28BC. Inspired by Etruscan tomb design, it shows the influence of the Etruscans over time. Our welcome dinner will be at an elegant local restaurant. Overnight in the Doubletre by Hilton Rome Monti for two nights. (D)
Day 3: The Gregorian Etruscan Museum is located within the Vatican City Museums. Numerous ceramics, bronzes, gold and silver artifacts dating from the 9th century BC to the 1st century BC can be seen within the collection, This is the time when the Etruscan cities converged into the larger structure of the Roman state. Many of the items displayed here were found at necropoli that we will visit during the trip, including Cerveteri and Chiusi. After lunch on our own at the Vatican Museum café, we will have free time to visit the other museum collections before returning to the hotel. (B/D)
Day 4:We depart Rome and travel northwest to Cerveteri and the Necropoli della Banditaccia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 9th century BC, this is the largest necropolis from the ancient Mediterranean world. Commonly referred to as the ‘city of the dead’, it is organized in a city-like plan. Here, streets, small squares and neighborhoods provide archaeologists with the only surviving evidence as to how the Etruscans approached urban planning and residential architecture. Move on to Tarquinia to enter Necropoli Monterozzi, also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 6,000 tombs have been dug into the rock. Some date back as the 7th century BC. As we wander among the tombs, we will note that many are adorned with stunning frescos depicting Etruscan daily life, demonstrating the wealth and power of this all-but-vanished culture. After visiting the site and its museum we transfer to Viterbo and overnight for one night at Hotel Termi dei Papi, a small boutique hotel and spa. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Our destination today is the delightful mountain town of Orvieto in Umbria, known as Velzna in Etruscan. It was one of the most important towns of the Etruria territory from the 9th to 3rd century BC. In the area below Orvieto’s cliff face, archaeologists and historians have discovered what they believe to be Fanum Voltumnae, the ancient sanctuary thought to be the center of the Etruscan religion and worship. If available, we will meet privately with an archaeologist working at the Campo della Fiera excavations. Continue on to the Crocifisso del Tufo necropolis where another collection of chamber-tombs are laid out in a street grid pattern. Back in the town of Orvieto we visit both the Claudio Faina Museum and National Archaeological Museum to view the collections of grave goods and pottery found during the excavations of the surrounding area. We conclude the day with a stop at Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta whose façade is done in the Tuscan Gothic style and presents an imposing rose window, glittering mosaics and elephantine bronze doors. Overnight for one night at the Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini, an elegant boutique hotel set in the historic district of Orvieto that was once a luxurious palazzo. (B/L/D)
Day 6: A one hour drive takes us to Chiusi in Tuscany. Between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, this was one of the most important towns in the Etruscan Dodecapolis, a confederation of twelve cities. Today will be spent exploring the town’s ancient remains. Our first stop will be the Poggio Renzo Necropolis where its most famous tombs are named for the depictions on their wall paintings. Chiusi’s National Etruscan Museum is one of the most important repositories of artifacts in Italy and we will visit this before our lunch in town. This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of La Città Sotterranea, an epigraphic museum with a collection of almost 300 urns and 200 grave tiles with inscriptions. Time permitting we will stop at tomb of Las Porsenna, the Etruscan king known for his war against Rome. Here we can also witness the vast labyrinth of tunnels that winds beneath the town and was once an Etruscan aqueduct. Transfer in the late afternoon to Perugia and overnight for two nights in Perugia at the 5-star Brufani Palace, built in 1884. This elegant hotel has had many illustrious guests including the Queen Mother and Prince Albert of Monaco. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Perugia, the capital city of Umbria, was another of the twelve confederate cities of Etruria. Between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, Perugia was enclosed by massive fortification walls that still stand today. There were originally seven gates into the city, and the six that remain contain remnants of Etruscan monumental architecture. Our walking tour will take us to several important sites in Perugia. We will enter the Volumnus Hypogeum, the 3rd century BC underground tomb of the wealthy Volumnus family of Etruscan nobility. It has the characteristic layout of an Etruscan-Roman home with an atrium and seven rooms and is one of the most important monuments from this ancient time. The heads of Medusa, the mythological Gorgon with coiling poisonous snakes instead of hair, are displayed throughout the hypogeum. We will go into the Sorbello Well that once supplied water to the entire city. An extraordinary feat of hydraulic engineering, the Etruscans sunk an 18-foot shaft more than 115 feet deep under the city. To support the cover over the well, two massive trusses of travertine were constructed, and they still protect the cistern more than 2,000 years later. Umbria’s Archaeology Museum is housed in the former Dominican convent of San Domenic. The most notable artifact of the Etruscan collection is the Cippo di Perugia, a boundary stone that contains the longest Etruscan inscription ever found. The Cathedral of Saint Lorenzo was constructed over a period of 150 years and the exterior was never completed. The interior is late Gothic with three aisles divided by octagonal pillars over crossbow vaulting, and the Chapel of San Bernardino contains Federico Barocci’s exquisite Deposition, painted in 1567-69. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 8: On our drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside, the dazzling medieval hill town of Cortona will appear high on a mountaintop. It was made famous in recent decades as it was the setting for Frances Mayes’ novel Under the Tuscan Sun. The medieval walls surrounding the town’s historic center contain imposing remnants of fortifications built by the Etruscans. As we walk through the medieval streets, stop to visit the Etruscan Academy Museum, or Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca, to view fascinating finds from nearby excavations, and the Accademia Etrusca, housed within the Palazzo Pretorio. Down the slope of the hillside is the 16th century Santa Maria Nuova Church, built to house a miraculous image of the virgin, and at the foot of the hill are found beautiful Etruscan tombs and burial mounds, now incorporated into the archaeological park of Cortona. Overnight for two nights at the Hotel San Luca. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Arezzo, once one of the Etruscan Dodecapolis, will give us views of the city’s most celebrated sites. Dominating the city is The Duomo, or Cathedral di San Donato, built on what was an earlier Christian church and possibly of the ancient city’s acropolis. The interior is embellished with frescoes by Aretine artists, seven stained glass windows created in 1516-1524 by Guillaume de Marcillat, and a well-known 13th century crucifix by Cimabue. The Medici Fortress is in the form of a star with five points, quarried from stone from the Roman amphitheater. Santa Maria della Pieve, with its striking façade, existed as early as 1008. Behind its Romanesque apse, our stroll along Corso Italia takes us through the medieval square, Piazza Grande, encircled by several landmark buildings of many different architectural styles, from medieval towers to the Renaissance Loggiato Vasariano, from the Gothic-Renaissance Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici to Palazzo delle Logge designed by Vasari. A poet and scholar, Petrarch was the most famous man born in Arezzo. Located just off Corso Italia is Casa del Petrarca, built in the 16th century on the remains of a medieval building traditionally held to be Francesco Petrarch’s birthplace. The Capella Bacci, in the apse of the Basilica di San Francesco, showcases Piero della Francesca’s fresco of the Legend of the True Cross, one of Italian art’s greatest works. Ivan Bruschi, a wealthy antiques dealer, restored the 13th century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo in the 1960s. Now a museum, it houses his personal collection including art from Etruscan, Greek, Roman, medieval and Renaissance periods. The Roman Amphitheater is a skeleton of a once important theater that held 13,000 attendees. The archaeological museum behind it houses an impressive collection of Etruscan and Roman ceramics and glassware. (B/L)
Day 10: Volterra is the very picture of a Tuscan hill town. Originally a Etruscan town, the fortification walls enclose the Parco Archeologico Enrico Fiumi, which contains two Etruscan temples, as well as a intriguing 1st century basin that the Romans built to collect rain water and distribute to citizens who lived in lower-lying areas. We will also visit the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum housing thousands of funeral urns and many unique bronze sculptures and terracotta pieces. Recent archaeological work has uncovered a large Roman amphitheater thought to date to the 1st century AD. After lunch we transfer to Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in all of Italy and the heart of the Italian Renaissance. By foot we will explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including Ponte Vecchio and Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (the Duomo). Overnight for two nights at Boscolo Hotel Astoria, a charming 4-star hotel located in the heart of the historic city. (B/L/D)
Day 11: We begin at the National Archaeological Museum of Florence, housed in the Palazzo della Crocetta. This stunning palace was built in 1620 for princess Maria Maddalena de’ Medici, sister of Cosimo II de’ Medici. The Etruscan collection includes some of the most valuable and unique pieces found throughout Italy. Highlights are the Chimera of Arezzo, the bronze statue of Arringatore, and the funerary statue Mater Matuta. Continue to the 14th century Palazzo Davanti created by joining together a number of tower-houses. It represents the transition between the closed, vertical structure of the medieval tower-house and the more spacious Renaissance palazzo arranged around a central courtyard. Lunch and the afternoon are on our own to explore the cultural and architectural gems of Florence before our farewell dinner at an elegant local restaurant. (B/D)
Day 12: Transfer to the airport for early morning flight back to the USA. (B)
CALL (per person, double occupancy) includes all ground transportation; all hotels; most meals (as noted in brochure); gratuities to guides and drivers; and entry fees. Price is based upon the exchange rate for the Euro not going over 1.28. If the value of the Euro increases, the price of the trip may go up.
Single Supplement: CALL. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost does not include: International airfare, a separate $150 per person donation check as noted below; airport transfers for flights other than designated group flights; meals other than those listed in the itinerary; food, alcoholic and other beverages not on set menus; passport and visa fees; airport fees and taxes; excess baggage charges; email, telephone, and fax charges; necessary vaccines or tests; laundry or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable. For this trip we have designated “The US Foundation at Queen’s University’ as the donation project, in exchange for a private tour at Cerveteri. In order to assure that your $150.00 per person donation checks are tax-deductible, we request that you make them out to the ‘The US Foundation for Queen’s University’ and mail these checks to the Far Horizons office prior to your departure and we will send them collectively to the foundation.
A deposit of $750 per person is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Insurance recommended by Far Horizons can be reviewed by clicking HERE.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the scheduled days, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Walking and Standing
The group will be walking into and around cities and archaeological sites extensively. All participants must be physically active and able to walk independently for distances that may exceed three miles or more each day. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other group members or staff. You will be on your feet for much of the day. Remember that hill towns are on hills and have streets that can be quite steep. Most of the hotels on this itinerary are located in predominately pedestrian areas and thus there may be times when the group has to walk a short distance to/from the meeting location. If you have questions about your ability to participate on this trip, please contact Far Horizons directly.
This Archaeological Tour to Italy is limited to 14 participants