Villa Giulia Museum Holds Largest Collection of Etruscan Art

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Reed Travel Features

ROME -- Keeper of the world's largest collection of Etruscan art is the truthful boast of the Villa Giulia Museum on the Viale delle Belle Arti.

The Renaissance villa that was the home of Pope Julius III (1550 to 1555) became a museum in 1887.

The Etruscan works displayed at the villa were obtained during excavations at Civita Castellana, Satrico, Alatri and Segni.

Exhibits include a varied selection of artifacts that provide insight into the ancient Etrus-cans, such as vases, crockery, jewels and terra cotta sculptures.

The majority of works came from tombs and temples between the Tiber River and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The Etruscans dominated Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio from the eighth century B.C. until the first century B.C., when they were vanquished by the Romans.

Most first-time visitors to the museum instantly recognize a distinguishing characteristic of Etruscan sculptures: The figures smile.

The mysterious look of pleasure on the faces of Etruscan figures has fascinated Italian-art enthusiasts for centuries.

Of particular interest to some viewers is that the

Etruscans portrayed women as happy creatures.

This might have been because, in contrast to later societies, the Etruscans are said to have viewed men and woman as equals in most social situations.

Villa Giulia's important position in the art world is further enhanced by the fact that E-

truscan artifacts are rare, because their archaeological sites have been destroyed by subsequent civilizations.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

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