“The Romans were more aggressive with the environment and they changed the landscape more profoundly,” Nejrotti said. “You can see that the traces the Etruscans left in the landscape were quite gentle, maybe that’s something we can learn from them.”
As my hike ended in the town of Sovana, an ancient Etruscan town that has long been built up, I wondered why I knew so little about the Etruscans and their fascinating cave life, when I knew a ton about the Romans. . According to Ronca, I shouldn’t feel bad. “Italians, not just Europeans or Americans, nobody knows them,” she said. “In schools, there is still no teaching about the Etruscans… They are really underestimated and undervalued.”
But that is starting to change. Ronca said that over the past five to eight years, and especially during pandemic lockdowns when Italians have spent more time exploring their own regions, the cave of life and their necropolises have grown in popularity. “Ten years ago I had to force people to come and see the Cave of Life,” Ronca said.
Soon perhaps cave life will be as crowded as more well-known Roman historical sites, but if so, Ronca hopes we’ll do our best to preserve them.
“The Vie cave is something unique. We can’t just redo them,” Ronca said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”
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