A half-day visit to Tarquinia, close to the coast and 92 km north of Rome, offers a unique opportunity to escape the crowds of tourists and view exceptional ancient murals and artifacts. Tarquinia was one of the 12 cities of ancient Etruria, the first known civilization in the regions of Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. A portion of the tombs at the Tarquinia Necropolis contain detailed murals painted onto the stone walls and ceilings. About 15 of these tombs are open to the public for viewing.
The murals depict the deceased enjoying grand celebrations, socializing, dancing to music, fishing and hunting. Bright colors are used artfully to depict all manner of creatures and objects from musical instruments and olive trees to dancing men and women, diving dolphins, flying birds, fierce lions and and more. The quality of the imagery is amazing - particularly considering that the murals date back to between the 6th and 2nd centuries, B.C.
After exploring the tombs, return to the main entrance to the city and visit National Museum of Tarquinia. Here you'll find multiple floors of artifacts retrieved from the tombs: beautiful ceramics, jewelry, sculptures, and numerous carved sarcophagi.
Tarquinia is on the Roma-Ventimiglia train line, which you can board at the Roma Ostiense station. If driving, take the coast road to Vetralla and turn left at the sign for the Necropolis. Park along the side of the road opposite the entrance to the Necropolis.