The Etruscan city of Vulci (VelX- in Etruscan) lies on the border between Lazio and Tuscany, about fifty miles north-west of Rome. It stood close to the sea on the right bank of the river Fiora, on a plateau of volcanic origin, in an area which is today uninhabited. The National Museum is housed in the Castle of La Badia, where finds from the excavations in the city and necropolis are on display.
Vulci was famous in the ancient world for trade, handicrafts and agriculture. Active from as early as the 8th century BC, the city expanded its control over the surrounding territory in the following two centuries. In the 6th century BC, local handicrafts, strengthened by the presence of Greek labour, gave rise to the production of ceramics, sculptures and objects in bronze, of excellent workmanship, which reached markets throughout the Mediterranean. After the crisis of the 5th century BC, which did not seriously affect Vulci, the recovery of the following century led to the construction of new public works, such as the walls and the temple, discovered in the urban area. In the second half of the 4th century BC, Vulci began to feel the weight of Roman expansionism. The struggle to remain independent came to an end in 280 BC when, defeated, it had to relinquish a large part of its territory, including the coast to Rome. Once it had lost its independence, the city declined and rapidly disappeared completely.
The archaeological areas
On the site of the ancient city, it is possible to see the remains of a villa dating from the 1st century BC, a long stretch of a Roman road, the foundations of an Etruscan temple and the remains of two doors in the city walls.
Four necropolises dating from the 8th century BC have been found around the city of Vulci. The tombs of the 6th and 5th centuries BC are generally of the sarcophagus type. Only a few graves are an exception, including the large tumulus of the “cuccumella”. The habit of placing statues of imaginary animals to guard the tombs is characteristic of Vulci. Immensely rich burial treasures have been found in these tombs, in particular a large number of ceramics of Greek production, and bronze objects of local production. In the second half of the 4th century BC, the tombs became of the hypogeal type and reproduce the shapes of the dwellings. The most well-known of these hypogea is the François tomb, famous for its paintings (now at Villa Albani in Rome) portraying, as well as the deceased, episodes from Greek mythology together with characters from Etruscan myths.