Tarquinia is a town in the province of Viterbo. It used to be an Etruscan capital and it is therefore best known for the Etruscan ruins found there. It is a clean and clearly well-organized city, which makes it into an excellent day trip from Rome.
Tarquinia city guide
The address of the town hall is (tel. +39 ). The ZIP code is 01016 and the area code is 0766. The Tourist Office of Tarquinia is located at the Barriera San Giusto, the main entrance to the city (where the bus from the station stops). They provide an excellent free city map, on which all sights are clearly marked. The address is Barriera San Giusto – 01016 Tarquinia (tel. +39 0766849286). The suburbs are called Tarquinia Lido, Marina Velca, Saline and Sant’ Agostino.
By car/public transportation
From Viterbo by car: You follow the SS675 in south-west direction and then the SP42.
From Rome by car: Take the E80 or the SS1 along the coast. The total distance is about 90 km.
Public transportation from Viterbo: You can either take a direct Cotral bus from Viterbo, or change buses in Vetralla.
Public transportation from Rome: The city is located on the train line between Rome and Ventimiglia. However, only the slower trains stop in Tarquinia. The station is about 3 km outside of the city center, but the bus service connects with the arrival times of the trains. (If you buy a day ticket for the Lazio region you will save more than if you buy single tickets from Rome to Taquinia and back. Moreover, if you have some time to spare, you can get off in Cerveteri or Santa Marinella). The bus company Co.Tra.L provides a direct connection between Rome and Tarquinia.
Public transport inside Tarquinia
There are (free!) shuttle buses inside the city. The stops of these three lines (A, B and C) are also clearly indicated on the city map provided by the Tourist Office.
Until 1872 Tarquinia was used to be called Corneto. Hereafter, until 1922, the name was Corneto Tarquinia.
It’s only since 1928 that the town is part of the then newly created province of Viterbo. Previously it belonged to Rome.
What to see and do
Tarquinia is one of the most famous Etruscan towns in the area. Outside the city you’ll find a famous necropolis which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and right after entering the historical center there is an Etruscan museum on your left. This Monterozzi necropolis consists of 6,000 tombs, 62 of which are painted.
This whole, walled historical center is located at the top of a hill and characterized by narrow alleys and old medieval towers.
The Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo dei Priori and the 15th century Palazzo Vitelleschi are the main civic buildings.
The Cathedral of Tarquinia is dedicated to Santa Margherita and is graced by frescoes painted by Il Pastura.
The 12th century Santa Maria di Castello Church and the 13th century San Francesco Church are both characterized by their Romanesque architecture.
The Suffragio Church date back to the 18 the century.
Etruscan Tarquinia was built on top of an earlier Villanovan settlement. According to legend the city was founded even before Rome, by Tarchon. Thanks to the mineral resources in the area and to commerce the city flourished.
Around the year 10 BC Tarquinia was subjected to Rome. In 90 BC it became a municipium (a distinct state under the jurisdiction of Rome).
After the barbarian invasions the city was reconstructed on the Corneto hill. The city wall was added in the 11th century.
After having been a feud of Matilde di Canossa (in English known as Matilda of Tuscany) in the befinning of the 12th century, a long period of autonomy started.
It resisted the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1245 and the Roman troops in 1283.
In 1328, Matteo Vitelleschi became feudal lord of Tarquinia. Although he was killed two years later by a rebellious population, in the end the Vitelleschi returned in power.
In 1355 the papal troops under Cardinal Albernoz conquered the city. From then on, it was under church rule until the Unification of Italy.
Events and festivals
In June, in honor of the Corpus Domini celebration, the streets in the center are decorated with flower petals arranged in beautiful motifs.