Just south of the town of Sovana in the Maremma, are Tuscany’s most significant Etruscan tombs, cut from the tufa rock face. An impressive setting for some of the world’s most ancient tombs.

Perhaps tombs aren’t on your mental itinerary. But the Necropoli of Sovana is a work of art in itself. The tombs, the oldest of which date back to the 7th-6th century BC, are excavated from the crumbly tufa rock that is characteristic of this area, and criss crossed by mysterious sunken roads known as “Vie Cave”. Some historians believe there represented a sacred passage between the world of the living and the dead. Whatever their function then, the effect is mesmerizing.

The small entrances to the tombs were once bright with colour but its visual appeal is no less striking. This is especially true of the Necropoli del Felceto in the first sector, and if you only have time to see one part of the vast necropolis, this should be it.

Highlights of Sovana Archeological Park:

Tomb of Idelbranda – Felceto Necropolis

The monument is temple shaped and houses the tomb of Idebranda. It has a double stairway and columns with capitals decorated with strange anthropomorphic figures.

Tomba dei Demoni Alati – Felceto Necropilis

See the particularly evocative headless statue at the Winged Demon Tomb.

Mermaid Tomb - Archeological Park Sovana

Mermaid Tomb – Archeological Park Sovana

Tomb of the Mermaid

This tomb is in the Sopraripa Necropolis. Here there are several tombs of varying size and interest. but the Siren Tomb is far and away the most fascinating. This is the Sea Goddess from Etruscan myth. The statue on the tomb shows a mermaid with two tails, guarded by two figures. The statues have been badly eroded but the atmosphere is still in tact.

Nearby:

Don’t miss Sovana with its Romanesque Cathedral and Medieval square. A visit to the town of evocative Pitigliano and Sorano, the other “tufa towns”, is a must.