Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hobo venture: Tarquinia Turtles

We discovered a bit of an ant problem in the BnB. Stupidly, we had left open the food bag, and even though all was encased in plastic bags, the ants ferociously inhabited the pannier. A quick swipe and dump seemed to get rid of them all.

Saying goodbye to the BnBs garden turtles (so old and cute!), we hauled our asses up the hill, out of medieval Tarquinia to the Etruscan necropolis of the ancient and destroyed city. I questioned my feeling of deja vue, but didn't think that I could have forgotten an entire city in the span of five years. Later on, asking Dad, I was informed I had forgotten my first visit with family.

The place Matt and I were at now was a huge necropolis site, used from the fifth century BC to the second century CE. Similar to some of the necropolis in Populonia, these graves were set deeply underground in man made chambers. The Tarquinian Etruscans, and later Roman inhabitants, carved beds and pillows for the dead; but also created a space reminiscent of the rooms of the living. The ceilings was peaked and decorated with colourful and intricate patterns. The walls were painted with scenes of the daily lives. For the hunting man, painted sacrificial animals were chased about by the scantily clad. The rich dame was given a feast with nubile dancers and exaggerated pugilists. The chambers became family crypts, with the old and the young and the in betweens placed together... Forever... What A Nightmare!

The necropolis stretches over hectares of land, of which only a small percentage is open to the public. Of the opened tombs, some were undergoing restoration and were also closed. That's the way it is though. Ancient artefacts need care and attention. And that attention must be done by trusted professionals in a controlled and uninterrupted environment. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.

The visual pillaging of the tombs left us hungry, and so there was a hunt for bread and nibbles. The bread was found eventually in the town, and nibbles were got from the food bag. The food bag that earlier was cleaned of ants. Except the steaming heat of the day had brought the ants out from all the crevasses inside. Hundreds swarmed out of the bag. Matt did his anti-critter dance while I, being the pragmatic non-lily-livered one, removed the little buggers, shoving cleaned cans into Matt's hands.

Of course, we're still finding bloody ants in the cookware occasionally. And there's a large amount of food bag paranoia.

Leaving the tomb site gave us the opportunity to rush madly along the steep hills of modern Tarquinia, which is actually a medieval town by the name of Corneto. The city was renamed in an attempt to bolster Italian heritage pride. Unlike the attempt in Populonia in the middle ages, this was done in 1922 CE. A slightly ridiculous move by the Fascist government. We got to the coast and followed it by zona militare. Signs outside threatened to snipe trespassers. We finally reached a more hospitable area of kiddy parks and fairgrounds. Once reaching the city, we picked a campsite address from an Italian iPhone app. The address given ended up being a single parking spot for a camper van. At the next attempt, the campground was only for camper vehicles.

We said a big "pppffllltttt" to camping, and got a nice and cheap hotel. We are the worst campers ever.

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