|Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca di Cortona.|
An entire if small viewing space is dedicated to the bronze lampadario found at Fratta near Cortona in 1840. This is a magnificent bronze hanging lamp very likely cast for a north Etruscan religious edifice of the highest importance during the 4th century BC. An inscription shows it was rededicated in the 2nd century BC. Under the 18 burners, its iconography includes alternating representations of Silenus playing double flutes and of sirens. Within reliefs of waves, dolphins and other fiercer sea-creatures is a gorgon-like face with protruding tongue. Between each burner is a horned head of Achelous. Don't miss it! It's housed adjacent to the entrance of Room II.
|Etruscan display in the Etruscan Academy Museum of the City of Cortona.|
The countryside around Cortona is dotted with "meloni", Etruscan burial-mounds. These can be seen at Camucia and also in the village of Sodo. Tumulo II at Sodo displays imposing terrace-steps decorated with sculptural groups and other architectural elements.
|Etruscan Tumulo II at Sodo, near Cortona|
A day spend first at the Cortona Etruscan museum followed by a circuit of the archaeological sites around Cortona makes for a very pleasant (and educational) excursion.
Some Etruscan proclivities differed from ours. One was a love of roasted, stuffed dormice (ghiri). These were reared in a large terracotta pot kept in the kitchen and known to us as a ghirarium. The numerous examples in Etruscan museums have climbing shelves built into the walls and air holes. There's a good reconstruction of a ghirarium in the MAƎC. The Roman recipe - possibly of Etruscan derivation - for preparing dormice involves creating a stuffing of dormouse meat or pork together with pepper, pine nuts, broth, asafoetida and some garum (anchovy paste will do), stuffing it into the dormice which are then stitched up and baked in an oven on a tile (180 C for 45 minutes). They are still a popular delicacy in Slovenia. You can also preserve the roasted animals in honey for later consumption. Buon appetito!
|Etruscan couple dining in style.|
Museum Opening hours:
1 April – 31 October open everyday from 10 am to 7 pm.
1 November – 31 March open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5pm.
Closed Mondays, closed on 25 December.
Fulvio Di Rosa
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