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Report 491: Maremma: Lost in a Tuscan Kansas

By Alice Twain from Italy, Summer 2004

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Page 3 of 7: Day Trip 1: Roselle

Roselle used to be the capital of Maremma. The ancient city was founded by the early Etruscans on what used to be an island. It lived thorough Etruscan and Roman history, during which the sea became first a lagoon, than a lake (Lago prile) and finally a swamp. In the Middle Age, first the Aldobrandeschi family and than the Orsini family left Roselle, which was still the site of the bishop until he moved to Grosseto. The old Roselle was deserted by then, until historians and archaeologists dug it up as a unique case of an Etruscan city that is not inhabited anymore.

Roselle is a few hundred meters from the current Aurelia road/autostrada, but we chose to reach it by smaller roads, which offered better views. Access to the site costs four euro for adults and two euro for children (under the age of 12).

Once outside the ticket and information office, you are offered the choice of two different itineraries, one 300 meters long and another one-kilometer long. We took the longer one, while a bus that arrived right after, took the shortest one. The long itinerary starts at the impressive walls of huge boulders fitted toghether "a secco," with no concrete to uphold them. The weight and the irregular surfaces allowed them to keep standing for the most part untouched (a few sections were rebuilt with the same technique in the Roman period).

The visit continued through houses, the amphitheater, the Roman forum and the adjacent "Domus dei mosaici," a villa-like house that hosted a rich family and that still shows its decoration, despite being long time roofless, the artisanal quarter and sections of Roman roads, still partly walkable.

Most of the visit took place under a harsh summer sun, and the few areas that have roofs are even hotter. A few tree areas (figs and apricots, if ripe serve yourself), equipped with sitting benches provide a welcome respite, but starting the visit early is mandatory, especially if you are with children. While we were walking out, at 11:30 am, we saw a family with two children under ten years walking in; I guess the children were nicely baked and crisp by the end of the visit. Also, don't forget to bring water (we had a half-liter bottle in three hours, and we ought to have two more)!

The amphiteater has a perfect echo, and it is still used for the shows of the "Estate rosellana". If you are in the area in July or August, check out which are the programmed shows.

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