History of the Villa Marmini

The Villa Marmini agriturismo, situated in the picturesque Tuscan countryside, has a unique history. In 1732, the Canonico Pietro Franceschini donated a collection of funerary urns to Volterra. The urns with their sculpted relief are of great artistic value. These urns were part of his private collection, and gave rise to the name, house made of "marbles" nowadays called Marmini. These urns came from the heart of the Portone necropolis, perhaps one of the most extensive burial areas in ancient Volterra.

Funerary urns were common during the Hellenistic period, and also the Imperial age, of the Etruscans. More than ¾ of those urns now on view at the Guarnacci Museum, came from the Portone necropolis. These excavations occurring centuries ago were often led by local scholars or enthusiasts, excavations were not done systematically and so unfortunately, we have little information relating to them. The scholars did not document the layout of the burial chamber contents, they were mainly interested in finding precious objects for their own private collections, or to sell. The only two tombs that can now be visited, upon the agriturismo property, bear witness to this period of exploration taking place from about 1730 to the beginning of the 1900s.

The first Etruscan tomb is characterized by a single circular underground hypogeum (burial chamber), whose access is through a steeply inclined corridor (dromos). Benches have been carved into the soft sedimentary stone, the funerary urns and vases were placed upon these benches. A large central pillar helps support the chambers' vaults, which are carved into the local yellow sandstone (panchino). A bust of Lasa was originally carved into this pillar, but grave robbers have removed it. The present-day access was built in the 1800s, the original corridor was oblique to what you know see. The rediscovery of this chamber probably occurred around 1880.

The second hypogeum, is a quadrangular room, always underground. Access is also through a corridor (dromos) which also slopes steeply downward. The main chamber in fact opens in the back into two additional smaller rooms, these rooms are located on two sides of the quadrangle. Here also a stone bench runs the length of the main chamber's perimeter; the urns, vases, and other burial objects were placed on the bench. Rediscovery of this tomb is also placed at approximately 1880.

The most recent excavations took place in 1970-1971, related to the widening of the road. In fact fifteen additional burial chambers were found, one of which is partially visible at the edge of this road. They have been carved into the local sandstone. These tombs had already been scavenged in ancient times. They are rectangular and irregular in shape, with benches along their inner walls.

The Portone necropolis was used primarily during the Hellenistic age, during this time many of the most important families in Volterra would have had their burials here. The largest hypogeum, which today are no longer visible, belong to the major families (gens) including the Ceicna-Caecina, the Luvisia, the Saucni, and the Flavi.

Link utili

La Storia di Volterra Volterra online: the history.

Storia illustrata di Volterra


Michelin Map

The ViaMichelin Map is able to localize with precision our Agriturismo and to trace a route from your own home.

Interactive Map

Complete overview of Villa Marmini's Agriturismo including the localization of the apartments, of the swimming pool and of the other areas.