An Ancient Tuscan Adventure

Solo travelers in search of a true Tuscan archaeology adventure should head to Chiusi, off the beaten path.  It’s a mere dot on the map of Tuscany but rich in experiences.  It’s only 150 square miles but its role in Italy’s history, more specifically Etruscan history, cannot be denied.  The Etruscans thrived from about 1200 to 550 B.C. and left behind a rich legacy of art and culture with an enduring mystery to this day – a language that archaeologists have never been able to fully understand.

The Etruscans had always intrigued me and part of my journey to Tuscany was to research and learn more about this society which vanished along with its isolated language.

Upon arriving at the National Etruscan Museum (Via Porsenna 93, Chiusi), you can book a tour to the Etruscan tombs hidden in the hills.  Be forewarned, the curator will wait until there’s enough people to make the journey worthwhile.  Then the adventure begins as a cavalcade of wayward tourists follows with me and the curator in the lead car.

Indiana Jones has nothing on me!

Indiana Jones has nothing on me!

This truly was a scene out of “Around the World in 80 Days.”  The maestro is in the front seat of my rented Mercedes SUV (hey, that’s the only automatic they had!).  He’s shouting out directions of “a sinistra, a destra, dritto, no no no, signorina, a sinistra.” Hey, I love this guy for calling me “signorina!”

Three other cars follow so closely, fearful of losing me and forever being trapped in gli Tombe Etruschi.  We climb higher and higher until we reach our first stop.  We manage to leave our cars here, there and everywhere, with hopes of not being cursed for killing off Pasquale’s basil plants.

The maestro has a giant skeleton key and I’m certain the ancient relic opens something really interesting.  It did not disappoint. It opens a door buried in a hill of dirt.  Hmm?  He opens it and we follow underground like lost sheep and I feel like Lord Carnarvon on his quest for King Tut’s tomb.

It’s cold and dank but once we hunch over like Quasimodo for about 20′, we enter…an empty space.  The Etruscans left behind a sarcophagus but the maestro tells us that most everything else from here has been relocated to the museum.

For the next stop, there’s an even bigger key and we climb across another tiny farm to enter another buried tomb.  Yet, this one holds the treasure trove.  OK, not really but it’s still so exciting.  It’s the tomb of the Pellegrina Family.  At least it looks like that in the Etruscan alphabet.

Could this be "Alma Perugina?"

Could this be “Alma Pellegrina?”

The sarcophagus of  “Alma Pellegrina” has been left behind, along with some amazing frescoes, buried under farmland for nearly 3,000 years.  The ceilings are also loaded with live mosquitoes and I’m thinking they have a virus from 3,000 years ago.

As the maestro kindly explains the history of The Pellegrinas, I feel a tap on my shoulder.  It’s Annabelle from Alabama.  “‘Scuse me, you know what he’s saying?  You speak Eye-talian?”  And so I begin weaving the amazing legend of the Pellegrina Family.  I later confess that I don’t know if the translation was too accurate but Annabelle and hubby are more than happy, as are a Japanese family  and a German couple who understood my English but not one word of Eye-talian.

All in all, exploring the Etruscan archaeology of Tuscany is an adventure worth experiencing and is the best €6 you may spend in Tuscany.  I only wish that I was the one with the skeleton key to those tombs.  I would love to go back when no one is around!  Want to come?

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Posted in Archaeology Vacations, Europe, Flying Solo, Italy, Italy travel Concierge, Off the Beaten Path, Time Travel, Tuscany | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Foto – Springtime in Palermo

Sicilian Jacaranda trees

Nothing prettier than the spring Jacaranda of Palermo!

Book your trip to Sicily now.

Posted in Europe, Friday Foto, Italy, Italy travel Concierge, Sicily | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Wright Kind of Weekend

Fallingwater Wright weekendI just love springtime drives into the open country and western Pennsylvania offers the perfect weekend escape for lovers of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural genius.  Tucked away in the hills of Donegal, Pennsylvania lies the architect’s iconic Fallingwater, the house which changed modern design forever.   And while Fallingwater alone is worth a weekend escape, there’s more in ‘dem dere hills, as they would say.

Frank Lloyd Wright also designed the nearby Kentuck Knob and Duncan House at the Polymath Park, which are each open to the public and provide insight into what happens when neighbors want what the next guy has, bigger, better and Wright all the way.

Visitors can truly make it the Wright kind of weekend by spending the night in these unique Usonian homes and enjoying the vision of bringing the outdoors into these masterful designs.  There isn’t much to do but enjoy the scenery and the architecture in this part of rural Pennsylvania.

NexttoKnobThe NextoKnob cottage offers a great alternative for a family weekend or girlfriend getaway.  Up to four people can stay at the charming two-bedroom property just beyond the gates of Kentuck Knob.  You make reservations through their main office (724-329-1901 ext. 203).  The cottage is complete with country kitchen, spacious backyard and satellite TV.  Hey, I even got to watch Derek Jeter’s last game as a Yankee while in the middle of Pittsburgh Pirates country.

The tiny town of OhioPyle offers a small town vibe where you can grab a meal and a fantastic Cowboy Burger at the Falls Market (69 Main Street)  or grab a yummy maple donut for breakfast at the OhioPyle Bakery (85 Main Street) where the donut and a cup o’ joe on the pretty outdoor terrace will run you less than $3.00.  For souvenirs and a taste of country cookin’ to take back home, stop by the Old General Store (3822 State Rt. 31, Donegal) en route from Polymath to either Kentuck Knob or Fallingwater.

Location photos at Fallingwater taken courtesy
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Posted in Pennsylvania, Travel Blog, United States, Weekend Getaways | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment