Tuscany’s mysterious ‘cave roads’ – BBC Travel


“The Romans used to be more aggressive with the environment and they used to change the landscape more deeply,” Nejrotti said. “You can see that the traces that the Etruscan people left in the landscape were quite soft, maybe this is something we can learn from them.”

As my hike ended in the town of Sovana, a former Etruscan city that has long been built over, I wondered why I knew so little about Etruscans and their fascinating vie cave, while I knew a ton about Romans. According to Ronca, I shouldn’t feel bad. “Italian people, not only European or American people, nobody knows about them,” she said. “At schools, they still don’t teach about the Etruscans… They are really underestimated and undervalued.” 

But that is starting to change. Ronca said that in the past five to eight years, and especially during the pandemic lockdowns when Italians spent more time exploring their own regions, vie cave and their necropolises have grown in popularity. “Ten years ago, I had to force people to come and see the vie cave,” Ronca said.

Soon perhaps, vie cave will be as busy as more well-known Roman historical sites, but if they do, Ronca hopes we will do our best to preserve them.

“Vie cave are something unique. We cannot just remake them,” Ronca said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”

Slowcomotion is a BBC Travel series that celebrates slow, self-propelled travel and invites readers to get outside and reconnect with the world in a safe and sustainable way. 


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