Villa Giulia

The National Etruscan Museum is located in the Villa Giulia, or, more accurately, the Villa di Papa Giulio. The Villa was built in 1550-55 for Pope Julius III by Vignola, Bartolomeo Ammanatti, and Vasari (although the extent of Vasari's participation is disputed -- he claimed to have been the prime architect, but experts see his hand only in the nymphaeum.) Michelangelo was, at minimum, a consultant, and may have actually contributed to the design. Although originally built as a casino -- that is, a place of recreation with no sleeping quarters -- in the 17th century it was used to quarter guests of the Vatican, including Queen Christina of Sweden in 1665. The Villa became the National Etruscan Museum in 1889. The original collection, mostly of pre-Roman works found in Lazio, Umbria, and southern Etruria, was greatly expanded by the acquisition of the Barberini collection (1908), the Castellani collection (1919), and the Pesciotti collection (1972). Material from ongoing excavations is added periodically. The museum is reputed to have the best Etruscan collection in the world (the Vatican Etruscan Museum is next) and also the best collection of Greek pottery in the world -- the Etruscans were great collectors of Greek pottery and many pieces were interred as grave goods.

Major renovations of the building and remounting of the collections were completed in March of 2000. Entry to the Villa is possible either through the Atrium on the Piazzale di Villa Giulia (off the Vialle delle Belle Arte) or through a rear courtyard beside the Romanian Academy on Vialle delle Belle Arte. The Museum is wheelchair accessible. The Villa Giulia has a very good bookstore (at the atrium entrance) and an undistinguished cafeteria (at the rear entrance), both of which are accessible without paying the museum entry fee. There is a good full service restaurant at the side entrance of the Modern Art Museum (accessible without paying the entry fee), a few hundred meters from the back entrance of the Villa Giulia.

Etruscans, General:


Etruscan Language:

Etruscan Alphabet:

Sample of written Etruscan:

Archaic Latin, for comparison

Iron Age languages in Italy:

Maps: Language of ancient Italy:

Greatest extent of Etruscan expansion (530 BC):

The "Etruscan League" of twelve city-states