The nearby city of Tuscania was once an Etruscan city and currently the home of two eighth/ninth century Romanesque churches.
We drove the 30km to the city, went in circles for a half hour looking for parking, and finally found a lot on precisely the opposite side of the city from the two churches. A 30-minute walk through the Centro Storico (historic center) got us to the correct side of town.
The church of San Pietro (Chiesa di S. Pietro) was built in about the eighth century on the site of an Etruscan acropolis. It was rebuilt in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, destroyed by an earthquake in 1971, and restored since. Little of the original artwork has survived.
In the lower level of the church we could see the columns and arches supporting the main floor and a few frescos.
Santa Maria Maggiori (Chiesa di S. Maria Maggiori) has a similar history – built in the ninth century, rebuilt in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, damaged in the 1971 earthquake, and then restored.
The scaffolding is apparently helping to hold up the roof, according to the on-site volunteer.
Some of the frescos in Santa Maria Maggiori survived the earthquake. My guess is that this one was intended to scare the parishioners into piety – or perhaps to scare them into increasing the weight of the collection plate. Or maybe the scary dude was what saved the fresco from the earthquake.
On the way to Tuscania, we hiked up to the ruins of an Etrurian temple and passed by the remnants of an old aqueduct. The foundation of the temple is all that remains after twenty-five hundred years.
It’s not unusual to see the ruins of Roman aqueducts in Italy – the Roman’s tended to build things that last – but this one is not Roman. Built in the 18th century, the aqueduct is quite ‘modern’ in comparison.
There are many more borghi (small Italian villages) within driving distance of our agriturismo (a bed & breakfast located on a farm or in a rural area) so the plan is to hit a different one every few days and hopefully run into something interesting.