Tuscania: The story behind a memory

It doesn’t feel like home, but it looks like home. That thought crossed my mind more than once as I stepped off the bus in a small town about 40 minutes from Viterbo.

This town is like all the others I have seen in Italy, which are still engulfed by a medieval wall. Inside the walls lay thousands of cobblestones with the same level of wear and tear as any other medieval city. Such a long history lay buried underneath these stones.

Tuscania is a town and comune in the province of Viterbo, Lazio Region, Italy. Until the late 19th century the town was known as Toscanella.

According to the legend, Tuscania was founded by Aeneas’ son, Ascanius, where he had found twelve dog pups (whence the Etruscan name TusCanacanabeing similar to Latin canis for “dog”). Another legend attributes the foundation to one Tusco, son of Hercules and Araxes.

Evidence of human presence in the area dates from the Neolithic age, but probably the city proper was built around the 7th century BC when the acropolis on St. Peter Hill was surrounded by a line of walls. Villages existed in the neighborhood. In the following years the strategically position granted Tuscania a leader role in the Etruscan world.

After the defeat of the coastal cities by the Greeks (4th century BC), Tuscania became also a maritime trade center through the port of Regas (next today’s Montalto di Castro). There are no record of Tuscania being involved in the battles that led to the Roman conquest of the Etruscan northern Lazio (280 BC), as the city probably entered into the Roman orbit in a Pacific way. 

Tuscania isn’t exactly packed with things to see, but its history, as I mentioned above is pretty elaborate. Its interesting to note how the city evolved from the Middle Ages on.

Walking down the streets of Tuscania, I instantly remembered the last time I had been there. It was January 25th, our first cooking lesson and we had no idea what to expect out of our first day at the Boscolo cooking academy. It was  something special, actually. It made me think back to my first day at the Nashawtuc Country Club.

I was 17 years old, it was a hot summer day in late May. I was a sophomore in high school had hardly a single care in the world and was about to start my first official job. I was hired for prep duty, which entailed chopping vegetables, peeling potatoes, slicing meats, anything that needed to be done before a large function.

I had the biggest grin on my face because I was about to start doing what I had loved since I was a little boy. I thought, “All my cooking experience will finally pay off and I’ll learn so much!”

That is the very same feeling I felt when I walked through the gates of Tuscania. All those feelings of happiness and elation came back to me and I felt like a kid again. I felt infinite.

Tuscania, and places like this remind me of the countryside, of home and all the happy feelings associated with it. It was cozy and comforting all at once.

There are shops you can travel through and see some amazing handcrafted ceramics and bracelets. There are two sperate spots where you can steal an amazing view of the city, and of the valley. In the background rests the iconic church of Saint Peter (not to be confused with the one in the Vatican.)

The story of Tuscania is a never-ending one. Go there, make your own memories, and see what you might be reminded of when you finally see it all. You’ll feel on top of the world – like nothing can slow you down.


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