top of page
  • Writer's pictureRoma Experience

Pyrgi & Macchiatonda "Where Archaeology Meets Nature"

Updated: Mar 13

There is a place where it is possible to combine the love for archaeology with that for nature and find what remains of the sanctuary and port known by the Greek name of Pyrgi, immersed in a unique wildlife oasis of its kind.

Put on comfortable shoes and set off with Roma Experience to discover this stretch of the Latium coast characterized by a very important Etruscan presence.

people sat on a fallen tree by the beach

In the hinterland, just a stone's throw from there was the powerful Caere, which with its numerous ports, drew its wealth from the control of maritime traffic. Thanks to its position, Pyrgi was the first landing place for those who travelled the Tyrrhenian routes from the south and its sanctuary is one of the few mentioned by ancient literary sources, being connected with historical events crucial for the political and economic balance of the Mediterranean area, such as the battle of Alalia in 540 BC, which binds Carthage to the cities of Etruria.

This link is confirmed by the very famous Pyrgi laminae, preserved in the Etruscan museum of Villa Giulia in Rome, an exceptional find for the understanding of the Etruscan language. In these plates with Phoenician and Etruscan twin text, the famous sanctuary of Pyrgi is mentioned. It extended for over 14,000 square meters along the coast and included two different sacred areas separated by a stream, the so-called temple B, dedicated by the tyrant of Caere, Thefarie Velianas (510 BC) to Uni, the Phoenician Astarte, flanked by a characteristic building with twenty rooms used, probably, for sacred prostitution, and temple A, dedicated to Thesan, the Greek Leucothea.

Have you ever heard about Leucothea? There are many very different myths about her, but according to the most widespread, the protagonist, a mortal woman named Ino, the mythical daughter of Cadmus and Harmony and wife of the Theban king Atamante, for Hera's revenge, angry for the hospitality granted to the child Dionysus, adulterous son of Zeus, threw herself into the sea with his son Melicertes and were both transformed into the goddess Leucothea, the "White Goddess" and into the God Palemone, with whom the Romans identified Mater Matuta and Portuno.

The monumental sanctuary is considered the expression of the political power of Caere, connected by the monumental Caere-Pyrgi road, an exceptional engineering work about 10 km long that links the city to its port, with a carriageway between 6 and 10 m wide.

Thanks to excavations still in progress, public buildings are emerging where there was probably an economic, administrative and customs activity in relation to the port. The finds are many, because of votive pits, such as that of the "loom weights", which contained dozens of these terracotta tools. The excavations are going on thanks to a project by the University of Rome La Sapienza which involves archaeology students, giving them the opportunity to study directly in the field.

The remains of the ancient Pyrgi are immersed in the unique green oasis of Macchiatonda that keeps intact the traces of the distant past of this marshy area. Wet meadows, laurel and elm groves that flood in winter, create a unique hydrophilic environment, the perfect habitat for numerous species of animals: moorhens, coots, calenders and the very rare voltolino are just some of the birds that pass through this oasis or even stop there to nest. Nutrias, small rodents and numerous types of insects complete this microcosm.

A unique landscape with coastal ponds, numerous streams and black sand due to the presence of iron minerals resulting from the transport to the sea of the deposits of the nearby volcanic hills. The area is subject to a significant setback of the coast due to the tender base, clearly visible by observing the bunkers of the Second World War, erected at the time on the coastline to counter any enemy landings or attacks, which today are located in the middle of the sea almost 100 m from the beach.

Inside the oasis, there is also an area destined for organic cultivation granted to six farms that produce products with an extraordinary taste. And if it is the taste that you are looking for, after exploring the oasis and Pyrgi you will be spoiled for choice by moving to Santa Severa or Ladispoli where numerous restaurants overlooking the sea are waiting for you to try the local specialities, between our favourites there are Pino al Mare and Papeete.

Here there is no shortage of fish, caught daily in the small ports that still dot the coast, meat from the hinterland, and vegetables including fennel, chicory, zucchini but above all artichokes, which in the right season are absolutely a must to try.

And to complete your gastronomic journey, all you need is to pair these specialities with a good bottle, selected among the many local wines, born a stone's throw from the sea that retains a vibrant marine note in their bouquets. Roma experience’s expert team will guide you towards the perfect itinerary for you and your travel companions, just ask what could be best for you and we will blend archaeology, nature, food and wine to make you experience this corner of Latial Coast in the best way.


italian painting and link to roma experience's tours


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page