The National Etruscan Museum is housed in Villa Giulia in Rome and boasts the world’s largest collection of Etruscan objects and antiquities.
Almost entirely overshadowed by Ancient Rome, the Etruscans gave early Rome its first Kings and engineers who built the Circus Maximus and one of the world’s earliest sewage systems that helped drain the local marshlands. This helped Rome to grow from an early hill settlement to a city with palaces and temples.
The Etruscan influence ended with the expulsion of the last Etruscan King marking the beginning of the Roman Republic. Even though the Etruscan civilization was entirely absorbed by Romans, it greatly influenced their culture.
The magnificent Villa Giulia was commissioned by Pope Julius III and designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati together with Giorgio Vasari and Vignola in 1551-1553. Created in 1889 the museum also contains the findings of Etruria. With donations and acquisitions such as Barberini collection, Castellani collection and the Pesciotti collection the Villa Giulia museum is the world’s most important representative of the Etruscan heritage.
Etruscan art is particularly renowned for its figurative sculpture in terracotta including technically challenging life-size figures as well as cast bronze and metalworking including refined jewelry.
The most famous masterpieces from the collection are rare Pyrgi tablets which are very valuable both from linguistic and historical point of view. Two tablets are written in Etruscan and translated into Phoenician on the third one making it possible for researchers to interpret them. The tablets date from the beginning of the 5th century BC and are the oldest historical source of pre-Roman Italy.
Other masterpieces include a Sarcophagus adorned with two figures representing a husband and wife on a coach as if they were at a banquet. Although the object is generally referred as a sarcophagus, its real function is still unclear. It is definitely a funerary object due to hand gesture of the woman indicating a ritual of offering perfume which along with the sharing of wine was a typical part of funeral ceremony.
Location: Piazzale di Villa Giulia, 9, 00197 Rome
Nearby sights: Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona
How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)
Tel.: (+39) 06 3226571
Official website: http://www.villagiulia.beniculturali.it/
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 8:30 am – 6:30 pm