Perhaps the best conserved part of ancient Vulci, these tombs mostly date between the 8th and 4th century BC and remain a symbol of the importance the Etruscans gave to the act of honouring their dead.
Historians believe many of Vulci's tombs were sacked by grave robbers during the 16th-18th century and their most beautiful treasures were stolen. Yet even empty, they remain magnificent and incredibly captivating.
Most important tombs
La Tomba François: To call this just a tomb is slightly belittling, it is, after all, one of the most important Etruscan monuments in the world. The Tomba François (above) is the only painted tomb in Vulci that can to be visited today.
The rich frescoes that adorn the 5th century tomb depict scenes from ancient Rome, the mythological cycle of Nestore, the legend of the Seven against Tebe and the Trojan War. The frescoes also depict the story of Mastarna (known by the Romans as Servio Tullio, the 6th king of Rome) who freed Vibenna Celio - an Etruscan leader imprisoned by Tarquin of Rome. In the fresco Mastarna's warriors fight off the enemy flanked by the figures of Volsinii and Sovana. If the above picture isn't enough to inspire, then trust me, this tomb will leave you speechless.
The tomb itself is located in a large room surrounded by 11 minor rooms that are all dug into the rock. Historians believe the tomb belonged to the Etruscan noble Saties di Vulci family.
Tomba del Carro di Bronzo: Whose beautiful decorations tell the history of the aristocratic family who was buried there.
Tomba di Iside (in the Necropoli della Polledrara): Archeologists found some of Vulci's most beautiful artworks and burial objects in this tomb. These include an alabaster gypsum statue made in Rodi, Egyptian flasks and beetles, and Greco-Oriental vases and exquisitely decorated ostrich eggs (many of which are now on display in the Museo Nazionale di Vulci).
Tomba del Sole e della Luna: Carved into the rock in the shape of an Etruscan house, this tomb was discovered in 1830. Fake beams and joists have been carved into the tomb's roof, while one room has a fan. Historians believe the tomb mimics the type of home the rich Etruscan aristocrats lived in.
Tumolo della Cuccumella: Discovered between 1828-1829, this immensely large mound is 18 metres long and 75 metres in diameter. Inside is a long corridor that leads to a large open space. Cut into the rock, the room is surrounded doors that open into other burial chambers.
Sarcofagi di Ponte Rotte: Sacrophogi that date back to the 5th century. The most beautiful of these depicts married couples lying and hugging amongst winged girls. Slightly erotic, but that was the Etruscan way.
Photo: Mararie via Flickr.