With the arrival of the beautiful spring days, I started making some day trips, to explore places easily reachable from Rome. I discovered the castle of Vulci, also called the abbey castle, by looking for a destination for one of these trips.
Immersed in the greenery of the Vulci park and not far from Canino, this castle houses the archaeological museum of Vulci. The manor of Abbadia, or of Vulci, which rises near Canino, in the province of Viterbo, was erected to “control” what is now called the rainbow or devil’s bridge (3rd century BC), from the Etruscan and Roman era passing over the Fiora river.
The castle owes its name to the Benedictine abbey, dedicated to San Mamiliano, initially housed in the building. Rising in a strategic position between the Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and since it overlooked the river and the bridge (important traffic arteries), the castle had always been a highly contested building. From the 12th century, it was always contended between the Aldobrandeschi, Orvieto and the Prefects of Vico and underwent transformations, from an abbey to a fortified castle with a trapezoidal shape and a lookout tower.
In 1430 the castle became the property of Ranuccio Farnese, the Elder, in 1513 it became the property (for life) of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the future Pope Paul III, who modified the structure bringing it to what we still see today. In 1537 the Abbadia was included in the Duchy of Castro and became part of the Church in 1649, after the destruction of Castro. In the Napoleonic period the castle was assigned to Luciano Bonaparte, and then passed into the hands of the Torlonia family and, during the nineteenth century, became papal customs. Finally, the complex became part of the Italian state, becoming the seat of the National Archaeological Museum of Vulci.
The English writer David Herbert Lawrence gives a penetrating description of the castle, on the occasion of a visit to the late nineteenth century:
“Behind the bridge, on this side, is the black construction of the ruined castle, with grass rising from the edge of the walls and from the black tower. Like the bridge, it is built with spongy tuff blocks, reddish brown, but much more square. And there is a very special void inside, the castle is not entirely in ruins, it is a kind of rural house.”
I found a very well done presentation, the finds well arranged and many explanations very well done.
The ticket office is located in the inner courtyard, where the caretaker’s house also overlooks, and the exhibition rooms are on the first floor. To go to the exhibition floor, visitors will find both the stairs and the elevator: even if the paving of the courtyard is perhaps not natural to go through, the new structure of the lift made me think of positive attention also to those who do not have ease of movement.
Entrance ticket: 4 euros (3 reduced tickets);
Parking: there is a large area outside the castle, so there are no problems to park the car;
Duration of the visit: less than an hour;