giovedì 5 giugno 2014

Cerveteri's Etruscan city of dead set to wow visitors

Previously closed Tomb of the Painted Lions to open to public

(ANSA) - Rome, June 4 - UNESCO world heritage site the Etruscan Necropolis of Banditaccia at Cerveteri north of Rome is gearing to amaze visitors with a July inauguration showcasing previously closed tombs and a new welcome center, officials told ANSA this week.

Thanks to a 2.3-million-euro collaborative investment of European Union and Italian State funds, the three-millennia-old Banditaccia is getting an upgrade and plans to show off the latest renovations at the July 4 inauguration of its new Visitor Center. One July highlight will be the re-opening of the Tomb of the Painted Lions, a 7th-century BC tomb once frescoed with lions, which have since faded away due to exposure, along with other previously closed tombs. Additionally, Banditaccia's long-neglected pedestrian paths have been cleaned up for the upcoming inauguration, including 'La Passeggiata di Lawrence', a pathway named after writer DH Lawrence whose book Etruscan Places inspired the site's rediscovery.

Lorenzo Croci, Cerveteri's sustainable-development councilor, hopes that the upgrades will double visitors to the heritage site, considered the cradle of Etruscan civilization with its more than 1000 tombs. "Few people know this but this is the largest archaeological site in the world, even bigger than the Valley of the Kings in Egypt", Croci told ANSA, adding "today we have 65,000 annual visitors. "We want double that, and for the site to receive the recognition it deserves," he said.

The Etruscans lived mainly between the rivers Tiber and Arno in modern-day Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, in the first millennium BC. By the sixth century BC they had become the dominant force in central Italy, but repeated attacks from Gauls and Syracusans later forced them into an alliance with the embryonic Roman state, which gradually absorbed Etruscan civilization. 

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