TARQUINIA is the most touted of the Etruscan towns, and with good reason. When not overrun with visitors, the site is quite evocative and the actual town, partial walls containing a crop of medieval towers, is a pleasant place to pass an afternoon. The museum is the region's finest outside Rome and is unmissable.
Most visitors enter the historical centre of Traquinia at the Barriera S. Giusto, a large parking lot just outside Piazza Cavour. The old fortified district to the north contains a twelfth-century Romanesque church, Santa Maria di Castello, noted for its rib vaulting, the first known example in Italy. Otherwise it's the Museo Nazionale Tarquiniense on the Piazza Cavour (Tues– Sun 8.30am–7.30pm; 6, 8, including necropolis; Tel:0766.856.036), that draws the crowds. Though not large, the collection is choice and sensitively housed in an attractive Gothic-Renaissance palazzo. The ground floor exhibits superb sculpted sarcophagi, many decorated with warm and human portraits of the deceased. Upstairs are displays of exquisite Etruscan gold jewellery, painted ceramics, bronzes, candlesticks, heads and figures. The impressive top floor houses the collection's finest piece – the renowned winged horses (fourth century BC), probably from a temple frieze. The Sala delle Armi boasts panoramic views of the countryside and sea.