Tuscania, like many neighboring towns, is situated on seven headlands of 'tuff', between the Marta and Capecchio rivers and overlooking the Marta valley, an important road that since prehistoric times has connected the Lake of Bolsena with the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Origins of the name Tuscania
The etymology of the city is quite transparent. The Romans called the city "Tuscana", from "Tuscia" ("Etruria"); thus, "Tuscana" was "the city of the Etruscans”. Secondiano Campanari, in the 19th century, noted that:
" [...] really, from 'tuscaniensis' [" inhabitant of Tuscana "] should come 'Tuscan-i-a' and not 'Tusc-a-na', but it is certain that, in ancient times, this town was called both ways [...]" .
Campanari then adds that in medieval times it was also called "Tuscanella" and "Toscanella," perhaps to avoid confusion with the Region of Tuscany.
In Etruscan times, settlements here consisted of small villages gathered in an area called "Tusena".
With the Romans, the city grew significantly; in fact, it developed the production of terracotta and increased its necropolis. After the Social War (90-88 BC), Tuscania was later promoted to be a Roman "municipium" and assigned to the tribe called Stellatina.
In the fifth century AD, it was one of the first bishoprics in Italy and it remained so until 1653.
Tuscania after the Romans
With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Tuscania underwent various barbarian invasions, and it was subsequently occupied by the Heruli, Goths and Lombards, who conquered it. In 774 the city was occupied by Charlemagne (742-814), who ruled it until the donation to Pope Adrian I (700 ca.-795), so that in 781 it became part of the Church State.
From 967 to 1066 it was subject to the rule of the family of “Anguillara”, then from 1080 it was owned by the “Aldobrandeschi”, and, later, by the Marquis of Tuscany.
During the Middle Ages it became an independent municipality, surrounding numerous castles and fortifications, and Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), finally, managed to conquer it.
In 1222 St. Francis of Assisi (1182 ca.-1226) lived in Tuscania, an event which later led to the construction of numerous monasteries in the surrounding. At the beginning of 14th century the city name changed, from "Tuscania" to “Tuscanella”.
In 1421 Pope Martin V (1368-1431) entrusted Tuscania to the captain of fortune Angelo Broglio da Lavello, called the “Tartaglia” in 1415, who ruled it until the advent of the Anjou, in 1495.
From that time on it shared the same history as Church State until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy, in 1861.
See the Tuscania travel guide when planning your visit.
1. see Secondiano Campanari in “Giornale Arcadico di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti” ["Arcadian Journal of Sciences, Letters and Arts"], Rome, 1837, p. 50