I popped over to see an old neighbor today. No, not that young upstart, Dante Alighieri, whose society dedicated to his study is housed in the little 16th century church of Ex Oratorio di San Pietro, nestled up against the east side of my apartment building, I mean my really old neighbors on the other side, the Etruscans.
I walk by them nearly every day on my way to the super neggozio, a “super” market scarcely the size of a 7-Eleven. The old couple can be seen, every day, just inside their front porch, smiling as they always have, for the past 2500 years.
They appear to be really nice, quiet folks, but once inside, evidence of many a wild party can be seen all over the place. Broken vases and terracotta cups seem hastily replaced on the shelves. Bronze pots and pans, long worn thin by repeated use, remain dented and no longer polished. Several lamps, once hung by intricate chain fixtures, now lie limply on their side in a case.
And all those miniatures of people, horses, and deities, look like so many toy tin soldiers left on a display case by their owners, now too old to even recall they ever had them. These and many more are remnants of the Etruscans, an uncelebrated society that itself clearly celebrated life itself.