Bomarzo – Italy’s best kept secret
By Brigid Cook, USAC student
Around 400 to 700 BC the Etruscans inhabited the town of Bomarzo, leaving behind fascinating remnants of their civilisation. One of these remnants is the Etruscan Pyramids, built from volcanic rock and situated in a wooded valley in Bomarzo. Very little is known about the history of the Etruscan Pyramids, although they are assumed to be a very important sacred site. Evidence, including that the pyramids face to the north-west towards the underworld gods, suggests to some academics that the structures would have been used for animal sacrifice. The structures’ steep elevations could have been designed to help the blood from sacrificed animals drain to the ground. Other academics suggest an entirely different theory namely, that the pyramids were used as an astronomical calendar linked to the stars Sirius and Antares.
Recently, with pictures of maps, vague instructions and very little knowledge on the precise location of the pyramids, I ventured out to find them. The directions found on the internet were cryptic, making me feel like a real explorer as I wandered around lost for about 40 minutes. The only clues I had were, “Only for the able-bodied, as there is a steep rocky path “and “turn right at the water tower.”
At first I was completely lost, which wasn’t ideal. However this resulted in a wonderful find in the valley. Turning up a trail, I stumbled upon a cliff face overlooking the whole wooded forest. Absolutely breathtaking views, and an excellent backdrop for Instagram. This was an amazing find! I sat on top of the cliff for maybe an hour and a half. I was the only person around. The silence, fresh air and picturesque landscape was a welcome change to the city backdrop of my home.
Trekking back down, I was frustrated by my inability to find the pyramids. Using only common sense and riddle-like instructions, I headed down the rocky steep paths to continue my search. My motivation was strong and the real fun was not knowing where I was going, or what the pyramids would even look like. I felt like a real explorer, like Indiana Jones, as if I might be the first one to stumble onto something great. I did find them. The pyramids were well worth the journey. It is truly amazing how they have stood the test of time, hidden away in the middle of nowhere. A perfectly preserved testament to the Etruscan people and a marvellous spectacle that I highly recommend it is worth venturing to find.
Please don’t be deterred from visiting the pyramids due to the difficulties I faced in finding them. In hindsight, finding the pyramids should be a very easy task, provided you know what to look for. Unthinkingly, I didn’t notice the series of orange markers that lead you to the pyramids! The markers are spray painted on trees and they make the task much, much easier than “winging it”, which is how I found them. InTuscia offers some excellent excursions of this region, allowing for an easy stress-free trek. With a knowledgeable guide of not only the area, but the rich history this journey is unlike any other.
The forest surrounding the area of Bomarzo has a rich variety of hidden wonders. After climbing the pyramids, I highly recommend further exploration to the nearby waterfalls. You follow crystal blue waters in a serene and peaceful setting that is only disrupted by the softly distant sound of cascading water. You will be surrounded by the ancient ruins of a past civilisation. The pathway to the waterfalls is lined by old homes of the Etruscans, weathered by time, but still standing. It is truly amazing to see such clear, blue water and at the same time witnessing history that has been untouched by the modern world.
Overall, Bomarzo is a truly unique and special town that is as rich with character, as it is with history. Spending a weekend exploring the canyon in which the pyramids stand and the beautiful, natural waterfalls is definitely something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Bomarzo provides the perfect mix of history and natural beauty, it is truly a hidden gem in Italy’s Tuscia region.
Another highlight in Bomarzo is the Parco dei Mostri, a garden littered with old beautiful works of art.
For more information on our excursions in the Bomarzo please contact: inTuscia at firstname.lastname@example.org