Hidden Norchia

November 12, 2013 / Art & Archaeology
Norchia, Lazio

After a visit to UNESCO world heritage sites of Tarquinia and Cerveteri north of Rome, one is ready for the rock hewn Etruscan necropolis of Norchia, near Vetralla. Since George Dennis clambered down the gorge to inspect its imposing rock hewn tombs in the 1840s, this site has been little known except to archeologists and Indiana Jones types who enjoy a good trek.

road to norchia
norchia loggetta 2

The imposing rock tombs of the necropolis belonged to the Etruscan city of Orcle, once a powerful center along the Via Clodia connecting Tarquinia with the inland cities of the Etruscan league. 

norchia loggetta1
Outside front of tomb-Norchia

After crossing an open field where shepherds graze their flocks an iron banister signals the starting point for descent into the valley of the tombs.

norchia  Hare

Here is one of the best echo points ever: shout your name or even a short sentence and the sound will rebound clearly and loudly off the medieval castle wall that lies directly across the valley.


A huge colony of crow-like jackdaws live in the nooks of Norchia’s medieval ruins and “commute” to Vetralla  daily where they spend the day circling the town or perched on the façade of the Duomo. At sunset they gather in raucous groups to return to their night roost, following the sunset towards Norchia.

crows to norchia

Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane is a historian, cruise lecturer, author and publisher of books on Italian history and central Italy has been residing in Italy for half a century.

See her award winning website www.elegantetruria.com and weekly blog posts on 50YearsInItaly for more about central Italy and to order books directly from the author.

16 Responses to “Hidden Norchia”

  1. Jamie Stoffel

    Another great article, I do hope to come back some day and do a trec exactly like this! Keep on blogging I Love your Blog! Thank you!!

  2. Susan Julian Gates

    I love your blog. Thank you for writing about places in Italy most of us would never see. My family is from Norma and there is a similar site called Norba.

  3. I was there a number of years ago, and it was just me and my traveling companion at the site. It was eerie, spooky and positively thrilling! It is one of my best memories, especially since it felt so private. Getting there was an adventure in itself, but worth the effort.

  4. Linda Boccia

    A little gem of a discovery. We love Rome and are thinking about moving there, again, back to my husband’s birthplace. This would be a great side trip. Thank you for the great pictures and history.

  5. Torre Newman

    Next September this has to be on my “must see while I’m there” trip. Can’t wait. Thanks for sharing.

  6. A great place to visit and it looks like it is in good condition again. Sadly you can’t say the same about the Necropoli of Castel d’Asso


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