Coastal town in the province of Rome, Cerveteri was inhabited since the IX century B.C., as evidenced by the discovery of a necropolis dating from that period. Founded according to tradition by the Pelasgians, a mythical population of Greek origins, the main town centre (Kaisra for the Etruscans, Agylla, for the Greeks and Caere for the Romans), due to intense trade with Greeks and Phoenicians, since the VI century B.C. denoted a substantial increase in its importance, not only documented by the growth of the town and the extension of the necropolis, but also the richness of the sanctuaries and the port of Pyrgi (modern Santa Severa). The good political and commercial relations with Carthage, brought the two cities to be allied against the Focesi in the battle of Mar Sardo. From the III century B.C., Cerveteri entered into diplomatic alliances with Rome, so strong, that in 390 B.C. the Vestal Virgins , during the Gallic invasion, sheltered here.
After the invasion of the Barbarians and the subsequent fall of the Roman Empire, the area experienced a phase of depopulation, due to the frequent attacks of Saracen pirates. Only in the XVI century, when it became part of the principality of the Ruspoli family, there was a certain rebirth of the town.
The town's name derives from the Latin "Caere Vetus", to distinguish the city from "Caere Novum" (the present district of Ceri).
Sites of Interest:
- the Necropolis of Banditaccia, since 2004, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It consists of approx. 400 tombs that cover a time span ranging from the VIII to the II century B.C. Symbol of the necropolis is, without doubt, the Tomb of the Reliefs, an underground noble burial of the IV century B.C. It belonged to the Matuna family and is characterized by the presence of stucco relief depicting everyday objects and figures of demons;
- the other large burial mounds, outside the fence of the Banditaccia, among which the Tomb of the Shields and Chairs (VI century B.C.), the Tomb of Tarquinia (IV-III century B.C.) and the Tomb of the Five Chairs (VII century B.C.);
- the burial areas of Sorbo, Ripa Sant'Angelo and Monte Abatone;
- the Rocca, located in the heart of medieval Cerveteri, is what remains of an ancient circular watchtower, from where it was possible to control a good portion of the surrounding areas;
- Palazzo Ruspoli, whose present appearance is the result of the works ordered by the Orsini family, who acquired the estate in the XVI century;
- the Case Grifoni (XVI century), designed for the tenants of the Ruspoli family;
- the fountain of the Comedy Mask (1881), in Piazza Risorgimento, characterized by a mask and two marine animals to the sides that spurt water into the basin below;
- the Granarone, built by the Ruspoli family between the XVII and XVIII centuries and was used for storage of grain received in payment by the tenants of the estate;
- the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, the most important religious building in the city, which consists of an ancient church in the Romanesque style, dating from year 1000, and subsequent modern joins the first, dating from the 50s of the XX century;
- the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, with three naves, built around year 1000;
- the Church of Our Lady of the Reeds, an XVIII century Marian Shrine in Baroque style;
- the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, built in the XV century by the Augustinian Fathers;
- the Museum of Villa Giulia, built inside the villa owned by Pope Julius III, collects and exhibits material from Etruscan excavations. Worth of mention is the famous Sarcophagus of the Spouses, the sculptural group with Apollo, Hermes and Heracles, the gold foils of Pyrgi;
- the National Museum of Cerite, inside the castle Ruspoli, exposes numerous Etruscan remains unearthed during various excavations.