Walking with the Etruscans
Sutri – Friday May 1st, 2015
During the week dedicated to the Etruscans, tourists had the opportunity to admire monuments through the historic walking tour arranged there. The tour started from the Amphitheatre. This structure was first considered Roman, but then later studies demonstrated that it belongs to the Etruscan culture as the Amphitheatre is completely carved in the tuff stones, typical from Sutri. It is, in fact, quite difficult to identify the structure from the outside as this appears to be a huge rock. The Amphitheatre dates back between the 2nd century BC and the 1st Century BC as declared by Archaeologists; it has an oval shape with an horizontal axis of 49mt and a vertical axis of 40mt.
George Dennis during his visit through this land back in 1847 left us this wonderful description:
Imagine a miniature of the Colossemn […] with corridors, seats, and vomitories; the seats in many parts perfect […] Imagine such an amphitheatre, smaller than such structures in general, not built up with masonry, but in its every l^art hewn from the solid rock, and most richly coloured—green and grey weather-tints harmonising with the natural warm red hue of the tufo […] bristhng all round with forest trees, which on one side overshadow it in a dense wood, the classical ilex minglingwith the solemn cypress.
Surely a unique master piece. The Mithraeum of Sutri gives tourists the same feelings. ‘’Impressive’’ this is the word that comes to mind as soon as people look at it. Completely engraved in the tuff rock of the hill, it has a long and narrow central nave with two colonnades that divide it from other two narrower lateral naves. Another Etruscan monument later utilized by the Romans to celebrate Mithraism (worship to the Greek-Roman God Mithras). Much later, this structure went through a further transformation into Church by the first Catholics who dedicated it to the Archangel Michael and the Madonna of Parturition (Madonna del Parto). The place is full of frescos recalling the Nativity of Jesus, St Christopher and the Archangel; The Mithreaum of Sutri on his own represents the incredible historic passage of different civilizations and cultures that Etruria has hosted until now.
This article is not going to further describe the wonderful monuments and art in the archaeological sites of Sutri; we leave to the curious and respectful tourists the surprise they will experience by walking through the marvellous cultural paths surrounding the Etruscan Necropolis.
It is our great pleasure to inform you that the archaeological sites are well kept and maintenance services respect the nature surrounding the place.
We would like to point out that the Administration of the archaeological sites of Sutri is an example and demonstration of excellent management; Through a plan well organised created to look after and revitalize its own Archaeological Park with events and other cultural initiatives, this Administration has proven that is possible to transmit our Italian cultures calling tourism to its side and generate job opportunities to local young well prepared volunteers; something that seems completely obscured to the administrations of other Necropolises.
The guided tour at Sutri on May 1st was given free of charge, but art that is kept and looked after properly surely deserves a support through a ticket.
In our opinion there is no point to be shocked if we are invited to pay a little contribution to see a wonderful monument or piece of art because through such contribution art can be looked after and preserved for the future generations.
It is not a surprise if Sutri is also a place chosen to stop by pilgrims that walk on the ancient Via Francigena towards Rome.