By Samantha Melamed
Sutri is a small village nestled in the green hill towns of Tuscia in between Viterbo and Rome. The main attraction in Sutri is the Archaeological Park—a tufa wonderland consisting of a Roman Amphitheater, a church completely hewn from the tuff, and an Etruscan necropolis.
I visited Sutri on the first Sunday of November—when entry into the Park is free. The clouds were closing in on the sun and the sky was darkening as I walked up the same stairs ancient Romans walked up. Afterwards, I stumbled into the church right next to the Amphitheater. The Church of Madonna del Parto, originally purposed as a Mithraeum, a temple to the God Mithra, preserves ancient frescoes.
It was peaceful just walking around in the bucolic countryside as well. There are a few paths that wrap around the Amphitheater. One of the paths led to the Etruscan Necropolis. Rain began to drizzle and the sky grew darker as I explored the tombs.
The medieval city center is across the street from the Park. Cobblestone streets are enchanting when they glisten with rain. I strolled through side alleys that appeared to get narrower until it reached the big open main square with a fish-sculpture fountain in the center and an arched clock tower overlooking the piazza. Past the piazza, clock tower, and center, is a long street that looks mystical on a rainy fall day. The street is lined with vibrant neon yellow trees that reminded me of fall at home on the East Coast of America. On one side of the street, central Italy stretched out, with mountains in the distance.
At this point, the rain droplets came down harder, fatter, and more aggressive. I sought refuge in an Etruscan cave where an aqueduct had delivered water directly to that particular cave. I watched thick lightning bolts streak the dark sky from the cave, and knew I would never forget Sutri.