SHADES OF TUSCANY… legend
The powerful King Porsenna constructed at Chiusi (or possibly in close proximity) a huge tomb, on which towered five pyramids. On top of the latter, going by what Plinio wrote in his book ‘Naturalis Histori’, was a ‘bronze globe and a single Petasus of which hung bells bound by chains, that when disturbed by wind, let out sounds audible from a long distance’. (Plinio, Naturalis Historia, XXXVI, 13). In the underground section of this mausoleum, that Plinio claims to be under Chiusi, Porsenna had dug out an enormous maze, and then inside buried a golden chariot pulled by twelve golden horses. Together with this, he also buried a golden hen with five thousand chicks, also made of gold. Legend says that on certain nights, the hen comes out glowing, followed by a sea of small golden lights: it is Porsenna’s hen, taking its chicks out to feed in the fields and woods surrounding Chiusi
Chiusi, the most ancient settlement in the Val di Chiana, is a town where travellers stopped, as it is rich in waterways, and were the means of communication between Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio.
The first settlements date back to the 2nd Millennium BC: Servio wrote that Chiusi was founded by hero Cluso, son of prince Lidia Tirreno. Cluso, going by what Erodoto said, led the migration and was the beginning of all Etruscan towns. Other Latin historians believe that Telemaco, the son of Ulisse, founded the town. One thing is certain: Chiusi was one of the most important Etruscan inland towns, up to a point that it influenced Arezzo (the latter could have been actually one of Chiusi’s outposts), and even Lazio. For the whole Roman period, the town continued to thrive thanks to its location being close to the Cassia, a key Roman road for communication. It became an agricultural centre, and a key area for transforming raw materials into finished products. It was also a centre of Christianity, spreading the religion to the surrounding area, such as the duchy of Longobardo (Lombard) and the earldom of Carolingia (Carolingian). As proof of Chiusi’s glorious past, we see today Churches, courthouses and archeological findings. Certainly not to miss is the National Archeological Museum, the Etruscan tombs and the different underground features. The historical centre is riddled with old Etruscan tunnels connected to ancient water tanks and wells, a unique and charming experience, linked to the legend of Porsenna and his maze, and the rest of his people, that founded the town.
Also, don’t miss out on a relaxing stroll around Lake Chiusi.