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Tuscania (previously known as Tuscanella) is a picturesque small traditional Italian town situated in northern central Lazio region, and with a history dating from Etruscan times.
The town is best known for its medieval walls and towers, and two imposing churches.
A visit to Tuscania will usually start from Saint Peter's Church, located on the hill which was the ancient seat of the Etruscan acropolis. The front of the church overlooks a grassy area between the Palace of Canons and the mighty defensive towers, while the high apse faces towards the nearby town.
The façade, most prominent in the central part, includes a portal, a rose window surrounded by a multitude of decorative elements, and side entrances. The main entrance is recessed in the wall and is the work of a Roman marble worker from the Lombard school.
The interior of the church is divided into three naves; the central one, in which you can see a floor inlaid with some Cosmatesque geometric decorations, marks the location of the earliest building - it is separated from the others by a low wall, where some seats are made of stone.
The cathedral crypt has nine aisles, and it consists of twenty-eight columns, constructed with the remains of Roman and early-medieval buildings.
The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is situated on the hills of San Pietro, on the summit of which is the Basilica. The church is mentioned for the first time in 852, in a bull of Pope Leo IV (pope from 847 and 855) to the bishop of Tuscania, Urban, and it was consecrated in the early 13th century.
On the front there are three finely decorated portals. The central, in white marble, is flanked by two columns. It has two lions topped by a bezel with four double arches and columns with different capitals. In the jambs the figures of the apostles Peter and Paul are carved.
Inside, the church has a basilica plan with a trussed roof, divided into three naves and contains otable medieval frescoes:
The apse is covered by a 13th century fresco, by the Roman school, that depicts the Twelve Apostles. In the presbytery, in the apse arch, is a large 14th century fresco of the Last Judgment.
In the Renaissance style former convent of Santa Maria del Riposo you can visit the Archaeological Museum.
In the four rooms on the ground floor are the furnishings from the tombs of the Etruscan families called "Curunas" and “Vipinanas”. Upstairs there are three rooms containing various pedestals with animal figures found at the tomb with Portico, clay covers from the late third century BC, burial artefacts from the necropolis of the so-called “Altar Tuff”.
Around the town of Tuscania there are several Etruscan necropolis of different sizes and ages, but the most famous is the Madonna of Olive, a short distance from the city center, which is based on three steps with funerary monuments dating, for the most part, to the Hellenistic age.
Among these note especially the so-called "Grotto of the Queen", characterized by a thick series of mazes, with thirty tunnels.
The gastronomy of Tuscania brings to mind the Etruscan heritage of the city. Among the first courses, try the "lombrichelli", a typical long pasta and flavored mostly with tomato sauce or garlic and oil; numerous vegetable soups, creamy and aromatic, and the famous "acquacotta", a dish of ancient rural origins.
The main courses include the "peasant panzanella (bread with ripe tomatoes and oregano), cress or “pisciallètti”, beans, bread and fennel (the so-called “facjòle co le fette”), mushrooms "Ferlenghi", pizza with “sfrizzoli”. All meats are excellent, especially grilled or baked, such as the pork or lamb.
Among the desserts try the "tozzetti", typical biscuits, "Birolli", "Torciglione" of Tuscania, the "diomeneguardi" and the characteristic "macaroni with walnuts." Among the wines we mention the glorious and ancient "Est-Est" of Montefiascone and the “Aleatico” of Gradoli.
See also history of Tuscania
You can find more local travel ideas in the Rome - Lazio guide.