Seeking etruscan roots
Ca' Le Scope The entire naturist community knows this land of 50.000 square meters situated amidst the splendid and uncontaminated greenery of the natural park of Monte Sole, not far from Bologna. It is characterized by typical Apennine vegetation, amidst woods of oak, chestnut, poplar, broom, "scopiccio" (Calluna Vulgaris) and "scopa" (Erica Arborea),jrom which the holding takes its name.
And if the fame of Vania and Luigi:S hospitality, and wonderful cuisine, have reached every corner of Europe, perhaps few people know of the opportunity of experiencing a strange and arcane encounter: Misa, the ancient Etruscan city of nearby Marzabotto.
The Etruscans lived in small cities perched on the Tuscan hills. They were a strong and wealthy people. The Greeks of the flourishing colonies of Sicily, afier wondering for so long where these people came jrom, finally understood that their origin was precisely in those places. They defined them as pirates, for the danger that their swift seafaring vessels represented for trade in the Tyrrhenian Sea. They were scandalized by the behavior of the Etruscan women, who had the same rights as the meno They sat next to the men at banquets and practiced gymnastics with them nude.
But they, the Greeks, who considered themselves men and everyone else barbarians, made an exception for the Etruscans because of for their culture, their skill in metalworking and in interpreting divine signs, lightening and storms, and their knowledge in mapping out fields and canals. A feeling of inferiority and an ancient fear, hidden in the legends about the origin of their city at the time of the kings, induced the Romans to erase the language and history of the Etruscan people.
No netheless, they inherited the culture, the complex imagination of the religion and divinatory rites, the colors used in their paintings, the colored caverns that were their homes, the pleasure of eating and drinking, their smiling at life, their sense of humor and realism in depicting gods, heroes and common meno But when their books and written tables were destroyed, the history of the Etruscans, the anecdotes, the legends and tales were lost forever. So in the tombs of the huge necropolises, in the smile of the deceased and the gods, the athletes andfishermen, the ladies and youths, "in theflight ofbirds and in the frolicking movements of the fish, remained a mystery of an unknown world, remote in time but strangely close to the shared legacy of feeling.
The Etruscans dominated the center of the Italian peninsula from the eighth to the fourth century before Christ. They were organized into small independent cities, built at the beginning of their history by powerful Jamilies, with absolute power who lived in richly decorated residences that often included the sacred space of the village.
Then. over time and with the spreading of their wealth, the structure ofthe small cities turned into a strong oligarchy and the common tempie became the piace of worship of the village. In the fifth century the interests of sea !rade moved from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic sea. It was at this point that, in order to control the Emilian plains and the roads that joined the port of Spina to the hinterland, a small settlement on the eastern side of the Apennines on the hills of Marzabotto was reconstructed according to a precise plano It seems to have been inspired by Greek urban planning due to the precision of the mapping and the presence of the sacred necropolis at the highest point.
But, unlike Greeks cities, the metalworking workshops, ceramics kilns and woodworking shops were part of the urban Jabric, scattered indiscriminately throughout it. The roads Formed a grid of right angles and were very wide (I5 meters), the widest of that period; the two main roads crossed on a boundary stone, the origin of the city 50 layout. On this stone are two deep notches at a right angle, pointing in the cardinal directions and indicating the practical and symbolic significance ofthat spot. In the fourth century the Celts populated the Po plains and spread to the immediate Emilian plains. For the city perched on the hill it was the end.
The Gauls left smoking ruins and abandoned the piace to head towards Rome. The city never recovered. However, though its name has been lost Forever, under the layer of mud remained broken tiles and lime-covered bricks, the foundations of houses and temples. Built in stone, these foundations are living proof of the only structure of an Etruscan city that has survived intact to our day without being buried by Roman or medieval structures and without having the layout ofits houses. shrines, workshops and canals altered. Marzabotto has maintained the charm of the corroded sto ne, the silence of the trees and the sky. the history of a smiling and rejlective people whose genes have been passed down to us throughout the centuries.