Scattered around the valley below Cortona are the burial sites of the ancient Etruscan inhabitants of this area. Around Camucia and Sodo you'll find the open-air burial mounds called "Meloni" sprinkled in the woods and with lovely views of the Val di Chiana. The ruins are -somewhat mysteriously- aligned on an axis through Camucia, Sodo and Mezzavia. Called MAEC, the Museo Archeologico di Cortona, there are a few sites worth seeing.

The tombs belonged to wealthy Etruscan families, as indicated by the momentos placed inside of them to usher them into the afterlife. The tombs were elaborate stone constructions with entrance vestibules, chambers, and corridors. At the Melone II site, archeological digs uncovered the remains of an altar platform for religious ceremonies with a highly decorative staircase with balustrade. Artifacts from the tombs are on display in the archeology museum in Cortona, and in Florence.

Touring the tombs is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon in the country, enjoying the walk and fresh, and the cypress-lined lanes to reach them.

The archeological park is open every day from 10:00 AM til 7:00 PM and can be reached by public transit; other tombs are more complicated to reach, however. Those interested can organize a guided tour with transporation, even with a minimal advance notice, by contacting MAEC, the Comune di Cortona, or calling (+39) 0575 637 235. You can email [email protected]. See the MAEC website for more information

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