The Ancient Etruscan Walls – Walls – Archaeological Area – Roselle – Grosseto – Tuscan Maremma (Photo by Di Vinti)
Roselle is one of the most important archaeological areas of the Tuscan Maremma, located 10 kilometers north of Grosseto. “Rusellae” was one of the first Etruscan cities in the area (VII century BC) and Romanized in 294 BC.
The site of Roselle, shrouded in a mysterious and profound silence, bears witness to a past long hidden in the Maremma scrub, which for centuries protected and preserved it up to us. Located at the foot of Poggio di Moscona, a few kilometers from the provincial capital Grosseto, it is one of the rare Etruscan settlements in the Tuscan Maremma not occupied by modern houses, which allowed archaeologists the freedom to carry out more in-depth studies and research. The charm of the place is also given by its particular location between the sea and Mount Amiata, surrounded by the dense and fragrant Mediterranean scrub. From the excavations, still in progress and partial, some residential quarters dating back to the VII-VI century BC have emerged, as well as important and rare testimonies on daily life in Etruscan urban centers, which have made it possible to know this civilization not only through the objects found in the necropolis. Up to now, the most important finds in the archaeological area of Roselle are the “Cyclopean” walls of the Archaic age, the most ancient and complete of Etruria, a Hellenistic district, the Forum of the Augustan age, the Domus dei Mosaici, the Amphitheater and theBaths.
Roselle is a fascinating enigma of the contemporary archeology of the Maremma, the attention and caution that guides the excavators in the difficult exploratory work is amply justified.
The city of Roselle, included among the twelve city-states of the Dodecapoli Etrusca (Rusel in the Etruscan language), was founded by Etruscans in the 7th century BC on a hill near the sea and on the eastern shore of the Lake Prile (Lacus Prilius), now disappeared, only a small part remains which corresponds to the Riserva Naturale della Diaccia Botrona. Due to its central position with respect to Vetulonia, Volterra, Arezzo and Chiusi, Roselle was a crossroads between northern and southern Etruria until the Roman conquest of 294 BC. In one of his writings Pliny speaks of the Ombrone as a navigable river and this suggests that commercial traffic along the river route started from Roselle. With the Lex Iuliaof 90 BC the inhabitants assumed Roman citizenship and in the imperial era there was a resumption of activities, as evidenced by the remaining monumental buildings. From the end of the sixth century Roselle was one of the Byzantine strongholds of Tuscia until the conquest of the Lombards. Subsequently it was the first capital of the county of the powerful (Lombard) family of the Aldobrandeschie until the sixteenth century sporadically inhabited.
The Archaeological Area of Roselle
Recent archaeological excavationshave highlighted the presence, under the pavement of the Roman forum, of two adjacent archaic buildings with an oval plan with public and sacral functions, one consecutive to the other. This is just one of the latest surprises that the archaeological area of Roselle has revealed, given that to date the excavated surface only corresponds to a small part of the ancient city. The entrance to the area is at one of the seven existing gates in the suggestive Cinta Muraria, more than 3 kilometers long (3270 meters) and an average of 7 meters high, built in the 6th century BC. by the Etruscans, still intact and fully open to visitors. Along the main Etruscan route, later maintained by the Romans, there is the forum, paved in travertine, with numerous shops; on the east side is the Civil Basilica. Nearby is the Augusteo, reachable from the southern side of the forum, destined for the cult of the imperial family of Augustus, and the Domus dei Mosaici, a patrician house with beautifully decorated floors. On the northern side of the ancient forum there is the Basilica dei Bassi, while going up the hill you will find the monumental amphitheater reused as a castrum in the early Middle Ages, surrounded by the remains of an Etruscan residential area. To the east of the forum there is a large thermal complex with rooms used as frigidarium, tepidarium and calidarium, transformed into a church at a later age. To the south, among the remains of ancient houses, there is an artisan district with potters’ ovens.
Important: The archaeological area of Roselle is somewhat abandoned to itself (it could be much more valued given its importance), there are few signs and indications that direct visitors to the various paths and archaeological remains, it is therefore advisable to bring a drive before you go, so you know how best to get around; in summer it is necessary to bring water to drink.