Etruscan stones from Fiesole in Londa

15 Mar 22 | Percorso Guidato di Londa

FromRoman Imperial period sources the area of Londa was an Etruscan Pagus, that is a community tolerated and incorporated into the imperial centuriation.

Like most of the Etruscan and Villanovan settlements (Bronze Age), there were small agricultural communities that arose along the communication routes, typically in an elevated position, from which goods and fashions arrived from all over the Mediterranean. Settlements of the Villanovan era arose in the area between the 9th-7th century BC, when important and noble families enriched themselves in the area with agriculture and the control of trade routes and roads.

The archaeological finds in the area of  Londa refer to the “oriental” Etruscan period referring to the 5th-6th century B.C. and testify to a certain importance of the area. After all, the barycentric geographical position between Mugello, to the north, and the Casentino, to the east, with numerous and rich finds discovered, could only place the current territory of Londa in a strategic position for traffic and commerce, in particular for the presence of the important road axis known today as Via Etrusca along the Moscia stream. The testimonies are some of the most interesting Etruscan funerary stones, of the “Fiesole stones” type, found in eastern Tuscany.

The symbolism represented and the craftsmanship quality testify well-being and wealth, as well as a certain passion for the exotic, typical of the Etruscan aristocracy of the time.

These decorated sandstones constituted important points of reference along the communication routes where the burials of the most famous people were found, who entrusted their hegemony to such durable materials. The similarity of these finds to other stones found around Florence confirm a territorial homogeneity of the entire district governed by the Lucomonìa of Vipsul (today Fiesole).

The discovery of these steles was almost always accidental and took place in the hamlet of Vierle around 1870. The density and quality of these findings within such a small area could indicate the existence of an important necropolis and templar structures still undiscovered, despite this the area has not yet been the subject of specific studies and excavations. Toponyms of clear Etruscan origin (Rata, Vierle, Rincine, Vicorati) and ancient pagan legends contribute to the mystery of this valley.

Traces of settlements, evidenced by the presence of burials, are frequent and well documented in the North West of Londa, in the localities of Frascole and Cella (Municipality of Dicomano) and in the North East on Monte Falterona (from the Etruscan “Falt Runa“, Throne of the gods) where not far away is the famous Idols Lake.

Londa territory was similarly populated at the Trebbio farm in Vierle, and a village was found on the top of Poggio Alto. This in particular has been identified as one of the first Etruscan settlements, between Val di Sieve and Casentino. This area has been theorized to be the cradle of this very particular and fascinating civilization, which would later take on a real passion for the oriental world thanks to trade with other Mediterranean civilizations.

The steles of Londa underline the importance of the “Via Etrusca” which connected Valdisieve and Mugello with the Casentino valley, which was then reused and maintained in Roman and Medieval times. No particular traces remain from the Roman period, except in some toponyms such as Caiano (Caianus) and Petroio (Petroius) from the Imperial era.

londa stele i

It is a lyre-shaped slabstone with a palm decoration in the upper part. Bas-reliefs are made on both faces: on one side a woman in profile with a pointed headdress, seated on a throne, carrying a sprig of pomegranate in her right hand; the opposite side shows a winged sphinx with a raised paw, a typical reference to the guardian of a necropolis. Both figures are in profile and looking to the left, and seem to be mirrored in the pose. The reference to the dualism of life / death is evident.


It shows the image of the deceased, a noble woman, who is bringing an offering to the world of the dead: the woman is depicted standing in left profile, wearing a “tutulus” hat with a veil, with a long robe that she raises with her left hand; in her right hand he holds a pomegranate. The leaf decoration was interpreted as having a phytomorphic function, in the sense that the sacred wood overlooking the sacred area would have opened up to welcome the figure of the deceased, a wish for a further assumption of vitality.