The Etruscan train travels twice a year from Siena to Chiusi as part of the Treno Natura activities. It crosses the Valdichiana, the plain that spans the southern part of Tuscany between Siena, Arezzo and the Umbria region and arrives in one of the most ancient Etruscan towns.
Once the train has gone past Siena’s station, one can glimpse the old towers of the city center. After the Arbia river, the landscape changes, the land rises in a sea of soft waves: you are now crossing the Crete Senesi, an expanse of clay soil, studded with old farms, and flocks of grazing sheeps. The train slowly approaches the Valdichiana valley and its many small villages perched on the hills, then crosses Montepulciano vineyards and finally reaches Chiusi. This is a very interesting destination, especially for archaeology lovers because between the 7th and the 5th centuries B.C., Chiusi was one of the most important cities of the Etruscan dodecapoli (the league of 12 cities).
Chiusi occupies a strategic position at the top of a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana, bordering between the Tuscany and Umbria region.
Here is a list of what you should see in this beautiful small town.
For a long time, according to popular tradition, an underground Labyrinth located beneath Chiusi was part of Porsenna’s burial place. According to the legend, from medieval times, the sarcophagus was held inside a golden carriage with 12 statues of horses guarded by a brood-hen and 5,000 chicks, which were also made of gold. For a long time, popular tradition confused it with the underground tunnels located beneath Chiusi. In reality, those tunnels are the Etruscan acqueducts.
The itinerary through the Labyrinth of Porsenna begins in the Museo della Cattedrale, in Piazza Duomo, and ends after 130 m at the great Etruscan-Roman cistern that dates back to the 1st century B.C.
From the cistern, visitors take the stairs to the base of the tower, built in the 12th century. From the top of the tower, the picturesque rooftops of the historic centre, the medieval fortress, the “Beccati questo” and “Beccati quello” towers, and the lakes of Chiusi and Montepulciano make for a beautiful view.
The exhibition begins with “The Labyrinth” and continues through “Epigraphy” section, located in Etruscan tunnels which twist and turn for 140 metres, passing through an impressive well where a lake which is 30 metres below street level can be seen. It is the only museum section in Italy where the entire space is dedicated to Etruscan epigraphs, with 500 inscriptions on funeral urns and tomb stones. In the “Production Activities” section you'll find farming equipment from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Etruscan, Roman and Lombard artefacts coming from the territory have been collected in this neoclassical building since 1871. Rare and precious finds trace back the entire development of the Etruscan civilization through the ages. The museum displays ceramics, sculptures, the famous Chiusi canopic jars, painted urns decorated with low-reliefs and a reconstruction of the main tombs in this area. Also worth mentioning are pieces of Etruscan jewellery.
The Museum ticket also includes the entrance fee to these Etruscan tombs: Tomba del Leone, Tomba della Pellegrina and the Tomba della Scimmia. Previous reservation is compulsory.
Built in the middle of the VI century A.D, it is the oldest church in Tuscany. The central nave and the apse were painted by Arturo Viligiardi from Siena imitating the mosaic visual effect. The bell tower is also noteworthy: it was built separately from the church in 1585 and later transformed into a defensive tower. The Cathedral Museum beside the church conserves a series of 21 illuminated manuscripts coming from the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
The lake, with a surface area of 300 hectares and a maximum depth of five metres, is located in the southernmost part of the Sienese Val di Chiana, is only 4 km away from the old town centre. This stretch of water - as well as the lake of Montepulciano - represents what remains of the marshes that once covered the entire valley and is a real paradise for those who love nature and bird-watching.
Among the many events that are regularly held in Chiusi, the feast of grapes and wine held in late September, the festival of “Ruzzi della Conca” in Chiusi Scalo that includes a beautiful parade in period costumes on the first Saturday of September and the Lars Rock Fest music festival in July are worth mentioning.
More info: Pro Loco Chiusi