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—  Comune  —
Comune di Tarquinia
A night view of the Priori Palace.

Coat of arms
Tarquinia is located in Italy
Location of Tarquinia in Italy
Coordinates: 42°14′57″N 11°45′22″E / 42.24917°N 11.75611°E / 42.24917; 11.75611Coordinates: 42°14′57″N 11°45′22″E / 42.24917°N 11.75611°E / 42.24917; 11.75611
Country Italy
Region Lazio
Province Viterbo (VT)
Frazioni Tarquinia Lido
 - Mayor Mauro Mazzola
 - Total 279.50 km2 (107.9 sq mi)
Elevation 132 m (433 ft)
Population (30 April 2009)
 - Total 16,527
 - Density 59.1/km2 (153.1/sq mi)
 - Demonym Tarquiniesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 01016
Dialing code 0766
Patron saint Madonna di Valverde
Saint day Saturday of May
Website Official website
Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

A fresco in the Etruscan Tomb of the Leopards.
State Party  Italy
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv
Reference 1158
Region** Europe
Inscription history
Inscription 2004  (28th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Tarquinia, formerly Corneto and in Antiquity Tarquinii, is an ancient city in the province of Viterbo, Lazio, Italy.



Tarquinii (Etruscan Tarchnal) is said to have been already a flourishing city when Demaratus of Corinth brought in Greek workmen. It was the chief of the twelve cities of Etruria, and appears in the earliest history of Rome as the home of two of its kings, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus. From it many of the religious rites and ceremonies of Rome are said to have been derived, and even in imperial times a collegium of sixty haruspices continued to exist there. The people of Tarquinii and Veii attempted to restore Tarquinius Superbus to the throne after his expulsion.

The Vitelleschi Palace, home to the National Museum of Tarquinia.

In 358 BCE the citizens of Tarquinii captured and put to death 307 Roman soldiers; the resulting war ended in 351 with a forty years' truce, renewed for a similar period in 308. When Tarquinii came under Roman domination is uncertain, as is also the date at which it became a municipality; in 181 BCE its port, Graviscae (mod. Porto Clementino), in an unhealthy position on the low coast, became a Roman colony. It exported wine and carried on coral fisheries. Nor do we hear much of it in Roman times; it lay on the hills above the coast road. The flax and forests of its extensive territory are mentioned by classical authors, and we find Tarquinii offering to furnish Scipio with sailcloth in 195 BCE. A bishop of Tarquinii is mentioned in 456.

The original site of the Etruscan city of Tarquinia, known as the "Civita", is on the long plateau to the north of the current town. The two coexisted for most of the early Middle Ages, with Tarquinia dwindling to a small fortified settlement on the "Castellina" location, and the more strategically placed Corneto (possibly the "Corito" mentioned in Roman sources) growing progressively to become the major city of the lower Maremma sea coast, especially after the destruction of the port of Centumcellae (modern Civitavecchia). The last historic references to Tarquinia are from around 1250, while the name of Corneto was changed to Tarquinia in 1934. Reversion to historical place names (not always accurately), was a frequent phenomenon under the Fascist Government of Italy as part of the nationalist campaign to evoke past glories.

Tomba della Fustigazione (Flogging Grave), an Etruscan burial site. End of the 6th century b.c. two men are portrayed flagellating a woman with a cane and a hand during an erotic situation.

Main sights

  • The Etruscan necropolises, with some 6,000 tombs, 200 of which include wall paintings.
  • The National Museum, with a large collection of archaeological findings. It is housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Vitelleschi, begun in 1436 and completed around 1480-1490
  • Church of Santa Maria di Castello (1121-1208), with Lombard and Cosmatesque influences. The façade has a small bell-tower and three entrances. The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by massive pilasters with palaeo-Christian capitals and friezes. Noteworthy are also the rose-window in the nave and the several marble works by Roman masters.
  • The Cathedral, once in Romanesque-Gothic style but rebuilt after the 1643 fire, has maintained from the original edifice the 16th century frescoes in presbitery, by Antonio del Massaro.
  • Church of San Giacomo and Santissima Annunziata, showing different Arab and Byzantine influences.
  • The small church of San Martino (12th century).
  • The church of St. John the Baptist (12th century), with an elegant rose-window in the simple façade.
  • The Communal Palace, in Romanesque style, begun in the 13th century and restored in the 16th.
  • The numerous medieval towers, including that of Dante Alighieri.
  • The Palazzo dei Priori. The façade, remade in Baroque times, has a massive external staircase. The interior has a fresco cycle from 1429.
  • The Gothic-Romanesque church of San Pancrazio.

Twin towns


External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Central Italy : Lazio : Viterbo : Tarquinia

Tarquinia is a town in Lazio, Italy. At first site it looks like a miniature version of San Gimignano with its medieval towers but the main reason for visiting is that it has fascinating Etruscan tombs with wall paintings (UNESCO World Heritage Site [[1]]), as well as a good museum on the Etruscans.

Detail from the Tomb of the Leopards
Detail from the Tomb of the Leopards

Trains run from Rome (mostly Roma Termini) and take about 1:30-2 hrs., cost about 7 Euro each way. Buses also run to and from nearby cities.

By car from Rome, take the Autostrada that runs northwest along the coast in the direction of Civitavecchia. Tarquinia is not too far after the end of the Autostrada at Civitavecchia but take care as the road is a popular stretch for the police to operate speed traps and catch you for overtaking illegally.

Get around

There's a local bus to the necropolis.

Detail from a tomb painting
Detail from a tomb painting
  • The Etruscan Museum, (in the Palazzo Vitelleschi in the main city square, close to parking areas). said to be the best Etruscan museum in Italy outside Rome.  edit
  • The Etruscan necropolis. At first sight, you may well be disappointed. You only see a barren piece of land with what look like workers' huts on a building site. However, each covers a set of steps going down to a tomb and you can turn on a light to see through the glass. Each tomb has a painting. Some are well preserved: others less so but when you consider that the paintings are 2500+ years old it is quite an amazing experience. Some of the better wall paintings have been removed to museums; if you cannot get to Tarquinia do not miss Rome's Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia (Rome/North_Center)  edit
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