Volsinii (in Latin) was an ancient Etruscan city (Velzna in Etruscan, Ουιλσίνιοι in Greek) and then Roman.
Corridor with vaulted roof, access to the Domus.
The political and religious center of primary importance, ancient sources testify to its destruction in 264 BC. by the Romans, following which the Roman center of Volsinii (also called modernly Volsinii Novi), the current Bolsena, was re-founded. The identification of the ancient Etruscan center (modernly referred to as Volsinii Veteres) is instead discussed: according to the most accredited hypothesis it would be ancient Orvieto while according to others it should always be identified with the Roman Volsinii and therefore the current Bolsena . There is also an identification of the site at Montefiascone. The toponym Velzna is also probably the basis of the Etruscan name of Felsina, today’s Bologna.
The city of Bolsena is located on the northern shore of Lake Bolsena, formed over 300,000 years ago following the collapse of the caldera of some volcanoes belonging to the Volsini mountains. Its territory is all included between the shores of the lake and the hills that formed the edge of the ancient volcanic cone.
Bolsena, which gives its name to the lake it overlooks, is located on the north side of the homonymous lake and has a generally mild climate thanks above all to the proximity of the lake and therefore not too cold winters. Snowfalls are rare, which are more frequent in the mountains just behind them (Monti Volsini), which reach 700 m a.s.l.
The history of the Etruscan city
He was part of the league of the twelve Etruscan cities (dodecapolis), which had its seat in the federal sanctuary of Fanum Voltumnae, dedicated to the god Voltumna, corresponding to the Roman Vertumnus derived from the Etruscan one. The location of this sanctuary has not yet been precisely identified.
The city fought for a long time with Rome during the fourth and first half of the third century BC, as the Roman historian Tito Livio tells us:
- in 392 BC (Livio, V, 31-32) an incursion of the Volsiniesi in the Roman territory was rejected;
- in 308 BC (Livio, IX, 41) the consul Publio Decio Mure conquered some fortified centers in his territory;
- in 294 BC (Livio, X, 37) the consul Lucio Postumio Megello defeated in a battle near the same city the Volsiniesi, allied with the Etruscan cities of Perusia and Arretium, forcing the Etruscans to pay a huge tribute and to accept the peace of forty years;
- in 280 BC (Livio, epitome, XI) the city, allied with Vulci, was again defeated and subjugated, as reported by the Capitoline Fasti.