From the Middle Bronze Age to the Medieval times, this location near Viterbo has been a buzzing small town
Near Vetralla, in the province of Viterbo, lies an ancient city hidden by a very dense vegetation. Norchia is a wonderful Etruscan cliff-type necropolis. As if this wasn’t sufficiently fascinating, its wild and romantic natural surroundings further increase its allure. Indeed, its tombs are a perfect example of symbiosis between architecture and natural environment. It was built where the ancient Roman route of Via Clodia used to pass, in correspondence to the convergence of three creeks – Pile, Acqualta and Biedano.
According to the findings, the area was inhabited since the Middle Bronze Age. However, the Etruscans built the necropolis near the acropolis in the IV century BC.
Norchia was a prosperous small town until the Roman conquest, which took place in the III centuries BC.
The tombs of the necropolis are dated from the IV to the II century BC. They were generally constructed from large blocks of tuff carved directly into the cliff, and are entered from stairs heading down into the rock. Many interesting ones are concentrated in the Pile area. In the Acqualta necropolis, there are some wonderful monumental tombs from the III century BC with a beautiful Doric pediment. While the Lattanzi Tomb is on the side of the Biedano creek. Another suggestive sight is that of Cava Buia, a passageway that the Etruscan cut into the rock to transport good to and from the acropolis. It is 400m long and only 2m wide, and it is still possible to walk along it.
The inhabited area of the acropolis, had a second thriving period in Medieval times. This can still be appreciated admiring the ruins of a castle and those of the churches of San Pietro and San Giovanni built in the XII century. Unfortunately, the medieval settlement was destroyed in the first half of the XV century.
Ilona Catani Scarlett