'EXVALSE', 'Operation/Project co-financed by the Tuscan Por Fesr 2014-2020'

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The stories of the local ambassadors: Mauro Pierini, Sarteano

A passion called “archaeology”

Seen from afar, it is as if the imposing Castle built on a travertine boulder embraces the town: this is how Sarteano appears, a town in the Valdichiana Senese deeply linked to the Etruscan civilisation. Mauro Pierini is a proud Sarteanese, passionate about archeology and a profound expert on the archaeological excavations that the GAE, the Etruria Archaeological Group, carried out under concession for many years, until 2011.

“Since I was little I went with friends to look for fossils around Sarteano, because the idea of ​​digging has always fascinated me. I have always been part of the GAE, even if I never participated in the excavation campaigns until 2009. Since I was finally able to actively participate in the excavations, I have experienced some beautiful, unforgettable moments."

When Mauro joined the Group, the excavation in progress was in the sacred area, the semicircular surface at the Pianacce Necropolis: "I remember well the torrid summer periods spent under the scorching sun, the Saturdays and Sundays spent digging instead of resting. Early in the morning we arrived on site fully loaded, excited like children, and in the evening we left tired and dusty after moving earth and stones all day, but satisfied and grateful".

Mauro talks about the whirlwind of emotions he felt during the first excavations, between the great responsibility of the excavation activity and the immense beauty of what he was doing. 21 tombs have been excavated at the Pianacce Necropolis, and the best-known one is the Infernal Chariot: this year marks the 20th anniversary of its discovery. "I have seen the Tomb many times, but every time I enter it I feel goose gumps. To think that 500 years before Christ men could do such things is incredible and equally incredible is to think that the tomb has reached the present day in good condition, having passed through the centuries and having even been transformed into a home."

At the Etruscan Museum of Sarteano, in the historic centre, the Tomb of the Infernal Chariot is faithfully reproduced and can be admired by those who are unable to access the original structure at Pianacce Necropolis. But the Museum boasts a truly admirable collection of finds: "There are some exceptional finds, such as the female Canopus on a travertine throne found in the chamber tomb of Macchiapiana: a canopic which further demonstrates how women were particularly important in Etruscan society. The female figure represented holds a small ax in her hands, a symbol of power in the aristocratic society of the late Orientalising period. The Museum truly deserves to be visited, even by the people of Sarteano themselves!”.

Mauro's place of the heart: Celle di San Francesco
“Since I was a kid, I went to this magical place in the middle of the woods, which today is regenerating for me. In general it is a mystical place, because the Celle are probably two Etruscan tombs converted into a home by Saint Francis who came here on a spiritual retreat".

The place recommended by the local: Pianacce Necropolis
“It is located in an exceptional strategic position, from there you can see three cities of the Etruscan Dodecapoli: Cortona on the left, Chiusi in front and Orvieto on the right in the distance. And then if it is possible, go to the Necropolis and visit the Tomb of the Infernal Chariot, because it really leaves you speechless... Alternatively, see the faithful reproduction in the Museum".


Mauro Pierini, GAE archeological member and Museum operator.