Once the train has gone past Siena’s station, one can glimpse the old towers of the city center. After the Arbia river, the landscape changes, the land rises in a sea of soft waves: you are now crossing the Crete Senesi, an expanse of clay soil, studded with old farms, and flocks of grazing sheeps. The train slowly approaches the Valdichiana valley and its many small villages perched on the hills, then crosses Montepulciano vineyards and finally reaches Chiusi.
The Etruscan train travels twice a year from Siena to Chiusi as part of the Treno Natura activities. It crosses the Valdichiana, the plain that spans the southern part of Tuscany between Siena, Arezzo and the Umbria region and arrives at one of the most ancient Etruscan towns.
Chiusi occupies a strategic position at the top of a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana, bordering between the Tuscany and Umbria region. The history of Chiusi goes back in time, it’s period of maximum splendour being during the reign of the legendary King Porsenna in the 6th Century BC.
For a long time, according to popular tradition, an underground Labyrinth located beneath Chiusi was part of Porsenna’s burial place. Actually, these tunnels are part of an ancient acqueduct comprised of underground corridors of various sizes and depths. The dead ends present, are due to the methods used by the Etruscans for the construction. They used to dig only into the conglomerate ground that could filter water. If the soil was not permiabile the tunnel was interrupted and a new tunnel excavated.
The itinerary through the Labyrinth of Porsenna begins in the Museo della Cattedrale, in Piazza Duomo, and ends after 130 m at the great Etruscan-Roman cistern that dates back to the 1st century B.C.
From the cistern, visitors take the stairs to the base of the tower, built in the 12th century. From the top of the tower, the picturesque rooftops of the historic centre, the medieval fortress, the “Beccati questo” and “Beccati quello” towers, and the lakes of Chiusi and Montepulciano make for a beautiful view.
The exhibition begins with “The Labyrinth” and continues through “The Epigraphic” section displayed along more than 140 meters of underground tunnels. This section, with its collection of almost 300 urns and 200 grave tiles with inscriptions, represents a unique exhibition in Italy concerning the Etruscan funerary epigraphy.
Established in 1871, the Museum was moved to its current Neoclassical building in 1901. Here many rare and precious finds are displayed, tracing the entire development of the Etruscan civilization through the ages. From statues and reliefs made of sulphurous stone to sarcophaguses and urns made of clay and alabaster. There are also imported products like the painted Greek vases.
The Museum ticket also includes the entrance fee to two Etruscan tombs: the Tomba del Leone and Tomba della Pellegrina, located 3 km far from the city center of Chiusi. In addition, there are two more tombs that are worth a visit: the Tomba della Scimmia, and the Tomba del Colle with frescoes representing funeral games.
Built in the middle of the VI century A.D, it is the oldest church in Tuscany. The central nave and the apse were painted by Arturo Viligiardi from Siena imitating the mosaic visual effect.
The lake, located in the southernmost part of the Sienese Val di Chiana, is only 4 km away from the old town city centre. This stretch of water, together with the lake of Montepulciano, represents what remains of the marshes that once covered the entire valley and is a real paradise for those who love nature and bird-watching.
Among the many events that are regularly held in Chiusi, the feast of grapes and wine held in late September, the festival of “Ruzzi della Conca” in Chiusi Scalo that includes a beautiful parade in period costumes on the first Saturday of September and the Lars Rock Fest music festival in July are worth mentioning.