THE ETRUSCAN NECROPOLIS
The tombs in Sovana were first discovered in 1843 by English archaeologist S.J Ainsley, who said, at the time, that he had never before seen so many rock-carved tombs in one place. This huge necropolis remains today one of the most important and evocative relics left behind by a civilisation that existed even before the might of the Roman Empire. The Sovanan territory is best known as the location of Via Aurelia and Via Cassia, two principal communication highways that connect to an endless series of small streets and alleys which lead all the way to the Fiora River. These ancient roads are all over Sovana but the most famous ones have to be the Vie Cave. Short in distance, these roads have become so famous simply because of the way they are carved into the volcanic rock. Once used as communication routes, the Vie Cave are covered in small caves and are close to various necropolises. Today visitors can explore these ancient roads hidden in a stunning natural paradise. The archaeological park that houses these roads covers almost the entire Tufo City territory, but it is in Sovana that you will find the most significant ancient treasures. The tombs in Sovana belong to a civilisation that lived in the area between the 7th and 1st centuries B.C. Simple and plain, the tombs are said to belong to the farmers that once lived in the small village. The more elaborate tombs were the ones built between the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C when Suana was one of the most powerful towns in the territory.
THE ILDEBRANDA TOMB
The Ildebranda Tomb was discovered in 1924. Its unique architecture has earned it the title as the most important and magnificent necropolis monuments not only in Sovana but in the whole Etruscan territory. Archaeologists don’t know who the tomb belongs to but decided to name after the most illustrious Sovanan citizen: Ildobrando di Soana. Today some archaeologists suggest the tomb belongs to a man named Lucumone, who was an Etruscan magistrate and priest. The tomb itself is built like a temple with two distinct sections: a burial chamber and a tomb. A true mausoleum carved into rock, it was decorated with a frieze depicting with zoomorphic elements. Externally the tomb has a porch with 12 columns painted in bright colors, making the monument appear even more extravagant. The Tifone Tomb, located within the Felceto Necropolis, lies off the main path, close to the Ildebranda Tomb but hidden behind a small hill. The tomb is small but embellished with a carved column depicting a human head. During the 2nd century B.C, the tomb was one of the most splendid monuments in Poggio Stanziale. The great head carved in relief is a hellish creature of Etruscan myth and features a classic serpentine form crown.
One of the largest Vie Cave roads in the area, Il Calvone is wedged between Poggio Felceto and Poggio Stanziale. Along the high walls of the road are some incredibly ancient carvings and archaic one room tombs. Among the engravings is an Etruscan unified cross or swastika, which was the symbol for the sun and the stars that radiated life.
THE FOLONIA TOMB
Leaving Sovana and heading for Pitigliano you will find a small but fascinating trail that leads into the woods. Hidden within this trail is a series of tombs that date back to between the 3rd and 2nd century BC. Only a small part of a necropolis was recovered here but all you need to do is take a few steps along the trail and you will be able to see ancient caves and tombs on both your left and right.
THE COLOMBARITOMB AND SILENO TOMB
Upon leaving Sovana from the castle door you will find a small dirt road that leads to the Folonia Tomb. Here you will also find the Monte Rosello necropolis, whose steep ridge is home to numerous rock tombs open to visitors. Among the most interesting tombs is a great columbarium known as the Colombari Tomb and a round-shaped tomb where the bearded head of the Etruscan Silenus was said to have been buried.
The Pola Tomb is located in the Felceto necropolis 300 metres from the Ildebranda tomb and close to San Martino sul Fiora. Once a grand temple, it is today marked only by a single rock-carved column that stands as a living symbol of its past splendor.
Passing the tunnel that leads from Sovana to the necropolis, you will find the entrance to the Sopraripa Necropolis. In this necropolis are several tombs which date back to different eras and all of which vary in size and beauty. However, there is one tomb that stands out among the rest and that’s the Siren Tomb. The Sea Goddess from Etruscan myth, the statue on the tomb depicts a mermaid with two tails, flanked by two guards, one which holds a shield and another which wears a very large helmet. No in a good state of preservation, the statues have, over time been eroded by the elements and are almost beyond recognition. On both sides of the tomb are two lions, symbols of infernal deities and placed there to protect the dead.