Chiusi is in the beautiful Italian province of Tuscany, close to the border with Umbria. Set on the plains of Lago Trasimeno, and surrounded by rolling hills, a Tuscan tourist should include Chiusi in their itinerary, or even use it as base for visiting the surrounding towns. It is equidistant from Rome to the South and Florence to the North, about an hour and half drive down the arterial Autostrada A1. It is also on of the main stops on the train line from Florence to Rome. There are also several medium-sized cities and towns in the vicinity including Siena and Orvieto, as well as countless small hill top towns. The weather, beautiful scenery, high culture and way of life have drawn tourists to Tuscany since the Victorian times.


Chiusi is of great archaeological interest. Founded by the Etruscans and later conquered by Rome, the town, and especially its tombs, bear witness to some of the greatest and most prolific civilizations Europe has seen, as well the period of turbulent political geography Italy encountered in the Middle Ages. Seat of the famous Etruscan King Lars Porsena, who attacked and briefly held Rome in 506BC, Chiusi was one of the chief cities in the Etruscan 12-city confederation.

Since the 19th century, when the European upper classes began travelling the continent as the first tourists, Chuisi has attracted those with an interest in ancient history, wishing to unlock the secrets of the town’s Etruscan sarcophagi. Many of the tombs are closed to the public for preservation, but a little hunting in the valley will lead you to the some of the smaller and less consequential tombs. Although many of the tombs’ best exhibits have been acquired for collections for national museums in Florence and Siena, but the [ Museo Archeologico Nazionale Etrusco] in Via Porsenna contains a fascinating collection which itself has a rich history, having been started in 1870. The exhibition centres on the rectangular coffins that the remains of important Etruscans were preserved in. The lids of these tombs are carved with a likeness of its occupant, which today can make for a chilling museum experience. Another of the proudest exhibits is a collection of funeral urns from the 200BC, with the multicoloured decoration still miraculously in good condition. The museum costs 4 euros for an adult entrance and is open Monday to Saturday 8 until 2.

In Piazza del Duomo you will find the 13th Century Bell tower, which stands separately from the main body of the cathedral, which was founded in 6th Century, and gradually embellished into the 19th century. Inside the cathedral, there is a statue of John the Baptist from the Sansovino school of sculpture. Interestingly, parts of the church are decorated with a mosaic of the Etruscan style. Even in the town’s centre of Christianity, there are echoes of the town’s pre-Christian character. These have been painted onto pillars that were stolen from local Roman structures when Roman control of the town ceased. From the cathedral, you can take a recommended tour of Labirinto di Porsena. Rather than a Labyrinth of Greek myth containing Minators and the like, this tunnel system is actually an ancient plumbing network that supplied the city with fresh water from an underground lake, and transported the citizen’s refuse away. The system was discovered by teenagers in the 1920’s, and is still the subject of the archaeological investigation.

Because of the area’s proximity to several large lakes and low-lying townships, it suffered greatly from Malaria in the middle ages. The town lost much of its importance, and today has little to separate it from anywhere else except its remarkable Etruscan heritage. If you are using Chiusi as a base to visit other parts of the region, a couple of towns deserve a mention.

Panicale is a beautiful example of a central Italian hilltop town. Arranged concentrically in a spiral leading up to the church tower, one can wander the narrow streets and forget which century one is in. There is a remarkable, tiny theatre that the tourist office will open for you. In the summer there are regular performances of classical pieces, which attract the locals and the more tasteful tourists. Chiesa del San Sebastiano contains a wonderful frescoe by Perugino, who was Michaelango’s tutor. Piazza del Umberto contains Bar Gallo, the hub of social life for the village. The friendly staff will serve you coffee, gelati or snacks while you watch the locals, and the locals watch you. For excellent regional cuisine, try Masonlino’s restaurant. The lamb and wildfowl are prepared in a way peculiar to the area, and exemplify what has made Italian food so popular all over the world.


Unless you are looking for Etruscan memorabilia, of which there is plenty, the shopping in Chiusi is rather like that of a medium sized town anywhere else in Europe.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Chiusi is not a particularly exciting place to spend an evening. There are plenty of bars and cafés, but nothing remarkable. A good place to eat is La Solita Zuppa or ‘the same soup’. Run in the traditional family way, the restaurant serves traditional rustic fare, and a wide selection of soups. Particularly recommended is the Lasagne al Cinghiale made with wild boar hunted in the Tuscan hills. There are a couple of world famous wines from the region you should sample. Orvieto Classico is a clean white wine at the cheaper end of the price range, while any of the reds from the Montepulciano vineyards will cost rather more, but reward you with a rich lengthy palette.

Tourist Information

Chiusi Tourist Information + 49 0578 227667

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There are many international airports serving this part of Italy. Pisa, Rome Ciampino and Ancona fly cheaply to the UK. Italy’s main international airport, Da Vinci, is an hour and a half’s drive away in Rome.

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