It is a town in the province of Viterbo, located on a tuff stone spur overlooking the valley of the river Marta, an important commercial route that connected, since prehistoric times, Lake Bolsena with the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are several legends that determine the foundation of the city: the two most reliable are those, that claim that it was founded by Ascanius, son of Aeneas, and who, instead, by Tuscus, son of Hercules and Araxa.
Inhabited since the Bronze Age, the area was later occupied by the Etruscans, who, taking advantage of the favorable geographical position of Tuscania, strengthened its commercial and economic incoming. Unlike other cities of Etruria, the Roman rule did not only increase the already strong economy of the city, but with growth of the handicraft workshops, specialized in the production of sarcophagus, aqueducts and baths were erected and, after the Social War, it was proclaimed a Roman "municipium". The town was one of the first bishoprics in Italy, later conquered by the Lombards and, following the descent of the troops of Charlemagne in Italy, it was ceded to the Papal States. In the XI century it was ceded in fief to the Aldobrandeschi Family and later of the Marquis of Tuscany. In the XII century it was proclaimed free municipality and was fortified by a mighty city wall to defend itself against enemy attacks. It was often scenario of clashes between the Papacy and the Empire and belonged to the Papal States until the abrogation of feudal rights in 1870.
Sites of Interest:
- the numerous Etruscan tombs scattered in an area of two kilometers from the city center. In particular, the necropolis of Pian di Mola, di Scalette, di Carcarella, of the Ara del Tufo and the Tomb of the Queen. The oldest tombs have a pointed arch shape and date back to the VIII-VII century B.C., while the latest were carved into the side of the rock and faithfully reproduce a sort of familiar environment for the deceased;
- the National Archaeological Museum of Tuscania in the former convent of the Franciscan Church of Santa Maria del Riposo, which preserves the extraordinary exhibits of Etruscan and Roman funerary dowry found in the tombs of the nearby necropolis;.
- the Church of San Pietro, in the Lombard Romanesque style, was built in the VIII century and features three naves divided by Roman columns, a presbytery with Byzantine frescoes of the XII century and a beautiful crypt vault supported by columns, which were remains of previous ancient Roman buildings. The façade has a beautiful portal and a valuable canopy of the Cosmatesca Art School, rich in decorative elements from the same school;
- the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, built in the VIII century and rebuilt in later centuries, features a façade on which three richly decorated entrances are displayed, a beautiful rose window and a loggia with columns and arches. Inside is preserved a superb fresco of the Last Judgement;
- the Cathedral, built in the XVI century by will of Cardinal Gambara;
- the Church of Santa Maria del Riposo, a previous Benedictine complex, which was entirely rebuilt in the XV century. The interior, rich in paintings, also preserves several other valuable works of art, such as: an altarpiece attributed to a certain Master Pellegrino, a Madonna and Child by Antonio del Massaro and the Presentation of Mary in the Temple of Girolamo Sermoneta;
- the fortified walls, part the original defensive system that dates back to the late Etruscan Ages, which was enlarged and strengthened during the Middle Ages.