WHAT TO SEE IN THE ETRUSCAN CITY OF CHIUSI
The town of Chiusi is located in the south of the Valdichiana in the province of Siena, on the border with the Umbria region. At the end of the second millennium BC, the first farmer settlements had already grown up here, the fortunate geographical position and the natural communication routes meant that Chiusi-Clev became one of the most important cities of Etruria to the point of being able to govern the newly formed Rome under the guide of King Porsenna.. In the third century BC it became an important Roman town with the name of Clusium, a crucial transit point along the Cassia consular road and the ports on the river Clanis, then navigable up to the Tiber. The central position of the city meant that during the persecution of Christians in Rome, many of these took refuge in Chiusi, proof of which is provided by the presence of two early Christian catacombs, the most important of which is that of Santa Mustiola (patroness of theta). Chiusi was disputed in the sixth century by the Byzantines and the Goths, and later became the seat of a Lombard duchy documented up to 776. At the end of the dukes’ era, it fell under the domination of the Carolingians for a good part of the 9th century. There then followed bloody wars with the neighboring cities that marked the beginning of a long period of decadence, interspersed, during the 12th century, by an architectural revival of the then bishopric. It was subjugated to Florence in 1556, under the rule of the Medici and flourished again thanks to the Valdichiana reclamation works carried out by Cosimo I.
The city is today known for its splendid Etruscan remains, the discovery of which brought to light unique finds preserved in the important National Etruscan Archaeological Museum, established in 1871 and housed in a neoclassical style building since 1901co. The recently renovated museum houses numerous artifacts of rare value spread over the two floors of the building and displayed according to thematic and chronological criteria. In the area near the town, there are also some important Etruscan tombs called: Tomba della Scimmia, della Pellegrina and del Leone. The first, with its paintings dated at the beginning of the 5th century BC, is the most famous tomb of the Chiusi necropolis and can be visited with prior booking. The catacombs of Santa Mustiola and Santa Caterina date from the early Christian era.
Piazza del Duomo, with the co-cathedral of San Secondiano (Duomo) erected in the 12th century and subsequently remodeled, its isolated bell tower from 1585 and the Roman cistern below, form the monumental fulcrum of Chiusi. Next to the Cathedral stands the Cathedral Museum with Porsenna’s labyrinth below, which leads to the Roman cistern and to the ascent to the bell tower through underground tunnels. The museum houses archaeological finds and works of art from the diocesan territory. Visiting the Civic Museum, “The Underground City” divided into three sections, allows visitors to discover its ancient artifacts in evocative Etruscan tunnels that wind through the city underground and admire the “Fontebranda underground lake” located at a depth of 30 metres below Palazzo Bonci Casuccini.
For more information:
National Etruscan Museum and Etruscan necropolis: www.archeotoscana.beniculturali.it
Cathedral Museum, Porsenna’s labyrinth, catacombs: www.amei.biz
Civic Museum “The Underground City”: www.museisenesi.org