You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The plan is to luxuriate for twelve days in Viterbo, with enthusiastic sight-seeing in the region, and a few days tacked onto either side of that for getting there and back.
Pyrgi and the Castello di Santa Severa
4 December 2017, and far fewer exuberant kids waiting to see Santa in the Palazzo degli Alessandri (wait until tonight). We're off today to visit Tarquinia near the coast, but first . . .
. . . we're stopping by the Castello di Santa Severa in the faded seaside resort of Santa Severa (site of Pyrgi in Etruscan times, and part of the present town of Santa Marinella), along the Roman consular road the Via Aurelia some 15km down the coast from Civitavecchia.
Kristin is lugging a suitcase full of kid's books for little Elier, to be transferred to Elier's dad Javier, who's come up from Rome to fetch them, in the parking lot here. (We parked in the wrong carpark.)
And whilst we're here, we'll seize the opportunity to throw in a castle, and perhaps an Etruscan museum. (Though it's a Sunday.)
A classic, by the looks of it
Juan Carlos and a friend -- that's not Javier, that's a young gentleman from Senegal who's working his way to Spain, if possible, by selling bracelets and necklaces in the carpark.
With Javier and the bag of books safely back on the road to Rome, we're heading in to see what's to be seen.
The site is a important archaeological complex with major recent finds. It was in an attractive location for Neolithic and Bronze Age settlers, followed by Iron Age Villanovans and then Etruscans by the 6th century BC, when Pyrgi served as the port of the important Etruscan city of Caere. In modern excavations, three golden tablets have been found with parallel texts in Etruscan and Carthaginian scripts, and sanctuaries for the Phoenician goddess Astarte.
We're having a good look around -- there's a national antiquities museum here, as well as a maritime and ancient navigation museum (with remains of Etruscan and Roman ships) . . . but no people.
We inferred that the lack of productivity was because it was Sunday. Turns out it was because it's winter.
In Roman times, there was a port and large walled maritime colony here, built over the Etruscan settlement, and it seems to have been for centuries a nearby getaway for the overworked elites of Rome. There are the remains of an early Christian church, probably dedicated to Santa Severa, who's vaguely described as a 3rd century virgin martyr, possibly from Pyrgi (the University of Notre Dame in Indiana apparently believes it's got her remains, bestowed in the 1860s, safely tucked away with a wax effigy of the young lady herself in a glass case; link and another).
Awk. We're not getting to the castle this way.
Back out to the carpark and around the long walls of the village to the castle on the shore.
The present castle seems to have been built in the 14th century, with later modifications, and it is said to have been transferred to the Benedictine Order of the Holy Spirit in 1482, which remained in possession until 1980. The castle and village have served various popes for R+R, but since the 17th century it has been in decline, though the Germans were pleased to occupy it in 1943 for "strategic purposes".
The seaside resort of Santa Severa just up the coast
The north-facing side of the castle
The seaward side of the castle
Juan Carlos catching up
The seaward towers
Juan Carlos and Kristin (thinking about lunch)
An oblivious passerby
The castle, museum area, and excavations from above (from a poster on the site, photo by Antonio Marziali, Gruppo Archeologico)
At the southern end of the beach resort facilities, that appears to be a fish restaurant.
-- Good luck getting to Spain
It IS a fish restaurant.
The hungrier members of the party lose no time in tucking in their seafood bibs.
Happy diners (photo by Juan Carlos)
The view from the restaurant (photo by Juan Carlos)
Many otherwise normal people would view these spiky things and murmur "yum".
Can't wait for summer
We were told that this was a summer resort for poor children from the cities, presumably in the days before the bankers' "austerity" demands in matters of social services for the people.
The Black Hand of Austerity has been here.
The semi-detached dining room of the children's colony. Sad.
A holiday something-or-other, bright and bustling in the summer
Now, up the road to Tarquinia.