Around 18 Km from Rimini, we come across Verucchio, built on a rock which juts out, dominating the valley. Situated on the boundary with Montefeltro and the Republic of San Marino, in a strategic position from a defence point of view and in relation to the roads linking it to the valle del Tevere and the Tyrrhenian mountain side, Verucchio still shows the scars of its history, a history which proved most intense in the early Iron Age, with the blossoming of the Villanovan Culture, and in Montegridolfo the Middle Ages, a period in which it became the residence of the Malatesta lordship.

If the impressive Rocca is the place which best evokes the power of the Malatesta family, the long experience of the Villanovans is instead collected and recognized in the local City Archaeological Museum,  inside the former Sant’Agostino Monastery, build in the 12th century and extended in the 17th century with the construction of the Church and the spinning mills. Inside the building there is splendid evidence of the rich tombs which testify to the supremacy of an elite consisting of warrior princes.

Each hall describes this civilization through the exhibits kept in the necropoles which grew up along the hillside, and there are many display cases which allow the visitor the chance to stop and “meet” the Etruscan princes which lived here between the 8th and 7th centuries BC.    Effective educational support material helps us to define a character of high lineage whose duties also included a military commitment, as denoted by the presence of ceremonial arms alongside offensive or defensive arms. In particular, tombs 85 and 89 of the Lippi necropolis (the most consistently used amongst those from Verucchio) are paradigmatic of the personal objects which accompanied individuals of a princely status,  both men and women.

The funereal rite, a mine of information on the  “identity” of the deceased, offers in these cases an unrivalled ostentation of wealth through objects of grand prestige and value. Think of the wooden thrones (preserved in exceptionally good condition thanks to the chemical composition of the soil), and in particular the example of tomb 89 with its narration of scenes linked to the wool production cycle, its spinning and weaving, finely carved into the high back.

Further proof of the status of the lords of Verucchio can be found in the clothing and personal effects,  as well as the elements relative to carriages and horse trappings and to the precious sets of bronze vases. These are objects which express familiarity with the Etruscan world and which, together with the way the tomb and the entire funereal ritual was organized, allow us to understand the owner’s important role in society, and his high economic and cultural position. The case of the double “function” of the cinerary and of the dolium of tomb 26 of the Moroni-Semprini necropolis, is emblematic- an obvious message, together with other significant elements in the objects which accompany the corpse, of the social level held by the individual.

Further signs of the power and wealth of the “princes” of Verucchio, are the products from the goldsmith, actual jewels of a craftsmanship which reached its peak between the 8th and 7th centuries: gold, worked according to the most advanced techniques of the time, gleams at the visitor from the various belt buckles and surprising earrings! And besides the glass cameos of necklaces and pendants which spreads warm colour, we stumble upon the mythical amber, a gift from the gods as consolation for the death of Fetonte, son of the Sun. Verucchio owes part of its development to this very substance: the town became a distribution and production point for this fossil resin which, thanks to its translucency, intense colour range and therapeutic qualities, was destined to become one of the favourites of the lords of the local community.