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The Castle dell'Abbadia and the bridge.

Volci or Vulci is an Etruscan city (in Etruscan, Velch or Velx, depending on the romanization used) in the Province of Viterbo, north to Rome, central Italy.

The Vulci were a tribe or people as well as a city. They were one of the legendary twelve peoples of Etruscan civilization, who formed into the Etruscan League, a confederacy of self-interest.

This league splintered apart when opposed by the central government of the Roman Republic, and the Etruscans were soon assimilated. Volci was abandoned. Apart from its being a tourist attraction, there is no "modern Volci".



Velch was located near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea about 80 km northwest of Rome, on the Fiora river, between Montalto di Castro and Canino. The site is not currently inhabited. The cemeteries and ruins of the city remain.

The circuit of the walls measures about 6.5 km, and scanty traces of them and of Roman buildings within them still exist. The Ponte della Badia[1] over the Fiora, a bridge with a main arch of 20 m span, 30 m above the stream, is also Roman. An aqueduct passes over it.

The former wealth of the town is mainly proved by the discoveries made in its extensive necropolis from 1828 onwards - Greek vases, bronzes and other remains - many of which are now in the Vatican. By 1856 over 15,000 tombs had, it was calculated, been opened. These were entirely subterranean, and little is now to be seen on the site but a great tumulus, the Cuccumella, and a few smaller ones. Many of the tombs date from the 8th century BC.

The frescoes from the Francois tomb, discovered in 1857, illustrating Greek and Etruscan myths, are now in the Museo Torlonia at Rome.


A derivation of the name from Indo-European *welk- ("wet, damp"), remains unconvincing. It would not be a Hellenization and there is no evidence of an Italic intrusion before the Roman conquest, nor were Indo-Europeans likely to have been in the area before Etruscan civilization. Currently we do not know enough Etruscan to say what the name might mean in Etruscan.


Beginning to expand in the 8th century BC, Vulci reached a floruit in the 6th century BC. It came to command Orbetello, Saturnia, Pescia, Sovana, Castro, Pitigliano and Marsiliana. It was a maritime power, with a geography similar to that of Rome; that is, located some miles up a river, but close enough to the sea to be a major maritime power. Many Greeks came to live there.

The port of Volci was at Regae. The origin of the name is not known. An Indo-European root can be found, but, if valid, it is most likely an Italic name assigned by the Romans who conquered the place. Or, it could be a Latinization of an Etruscan name.

Originally the Etruscans were co-founders of Rome and continued to dominate it. Vulci had some influence on early Rome, as Servius Tullius and the Vibenna brothers (Caile and Avle Vipinas) were from Vulci. At Vulci he was a private citizen, Macstarna. Their names and representations appear on a fresco in the Francois Tomb.

After the population of Rome had become predominantly Italic, the Etruscan kings were overthrown and the Romans fought a long war to reduce Etruria to their dominion. Tiberius Coruncanius triumphed over the people of Vulsinii and Volci in 280 BC. and the colony of Cosa was founded in their territory. The Romans took the coast from them, cutting the base of their power. This seems to have led to the decline and eventual abandonment of the city.

Volci does not seem to have been of great importance in the remaining Roman period, even though the Romans pushed the Via Aurelia through it in 240 BC. A surviving milestone gives the distance to Rome as 70 milia passuum.

Later it became an episcopal see.


The Etruscan goddess Turan was the patroness of Volci.

The area also houses a mithraeum.



  1. ^ Ponte dell'Abbadia in the Structurae database

External links

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Coordinates: 42°25′8″N 11°37′54″E / 42.41889°N 11.63167°E / 42.41889; 11.63167


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Vulci is a former Etruscan city in northern Lazio in Italy. It is now deserted but many of the Etruscan ruins found in excavations from 1828 onwards of an extensive Necropolis are housed in a former castle.


Vulci was active as early as the 8th century BC. In the 6th century BC, the presence of Greek labour led to the production of ceramics, sculptures and bronze objects of a high standard. The struggle to remain independent from Rome came to an end in 280 BC when Vulci had to give up most of its territory. The city then declined and disappeared rapidly.

The Etruscan Museum at Vulci
The Etruscan Museum at Vulci

Get in

From Rome, take the A12 Autostrada to Civitavecchia continuing into the E80 (Via Aurelia) at the end of the Autostrada. After Tarquinia leave the E80 at Montalto de Castro and follow the signs.

  • Etruscan National Museum. This is housed in the La Badia Castle. [1] Admission Euros 2. Guided tours can be arranged. For groups of 20 or more a vist can be made to the Necropolis itself to see the Tomb of François and the nearby Tomb of Inscriptions, which contains remains of original Etruscan inscriptions. Walks in the area can also be recommended. Next to the castle is the Ponte della Badia, a Roman bridge.
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