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    Malatesta & Montefeltro

    The signs of power: Etruscan princes from the Marecchia Valley


    Going back up the Marecchia, around 18 Km from Rimini, we come across Verucchio, built on a rock which juts out, dominating the valley. Situatedon the boundary with Montefeltro and the Republic of San Marino, in astrategic position from a defence point of view and in relation to the roadslinking it to the valle del Tevere and the Tyrrhenian mountain side, Verucchiostill shows the scars of its history, a history which proved most intense inthe early Iron Age, with the blossoming of the Villanovan Culture, and in the Middle Ages, a period in which it became the residence of the Malatestalordship.


    If the impressive Rocca is the place which best evokes the powerof the Malatesta family, the long experience of the Villanovans is insteadcollected and recognized in the local City Archaeological Museum,inside the former Sant’Agostino Monastery, build in the 12th century andextended in the 17th century with the construction of the Church and thespinning mills.


    Inside the building there is splendid evidence of the rich tombs which testify to the supremacy of an elite consisting of warrior princes. Each hall describes this civilization through the exhibits keptin the necropoles which grew up along the hillside, and there are manydisplay cases which allow the visitor the chance to stop and “meet” the Etruscan princes which lived here between the 8th and 7th centuries BC. Effective educational support material helps us to define a character ofhigh lineage whose duties also included a military commitment, as denotedby the presence of ceremonial arms alongside offensive or defensivearms. In particular, tombs 85 and 89 of the Lippi necropolis (the mostconsistently used amongst those from Verucchio) are paradigmatic of the personal objects which accompanied individuals of a princely status,both men and women.


    The funereal rite, a mine of information on the“identity” of the deceased, offers in these cases an unrivalled ostentation ofwealth through objects of grand prestige and value. Think of the wooden thrones (preserved in exceptionally good condition thanks to the chemicalcomposition of the soil), and in particular the example of tomb 89 with itsnarration of scenes linked to the wool production cycle, its spinning andweaving, finely carved into the high back. Further proof of the status of thelords of Verucchio can be found in the clothing and personal effects,as well as the elements relative to carriages and horse trappings and to the precious sets of bronze vases.


    These are objects which expressfamiliarity with the Etruscan world and which, together with the way thetomb and the entire funereal ritual was organized, allow us to understandthe owner’s important role in society, and his high economic and culturalposition. The case of the double “function” of the cinerary and of thedolium of tomb 26 of the Moroni-Semprini necropolis, is emblematic- anobvious message, together with other significant elements in the objectswhich accompany the corpse, of the social level held by the individual. 


    Further signs of the power and wealth of the “princes” of Verucchio, arethe products from the goldsmith, actual jewels of a craftsmanship whichreached its peak between the 8th and 7th centuries: gold, worked accordingto the most advanced techniques of the time, gleams at the visitor from thevarious belt buckles and surprising earrings! And besides the glass cameosof necklaces and pendants which spreads warm colour, we stumble uponthe mythical amber, a gift from the gods as consolation for the death of Fetonte, son of the Sun. Verucchio owes part of its development to thisvery substance: the town became a distribution and production point forthis fossil resin which, thanks to its translucency, intense colour range andtherapeutic qualities, was destined to become one of the favourites of thelords of the local community.

    Contact details

    Via Sant'Agostino, 14
    The signs of power: Etruscan princes from the Marecchia Valley
    Via Sant'Agostino, 14

    43.9837311; 12.421068600000012

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    Last update: 16/03/2017