Piazza Carlo Baldini, 7 – 53043 Chiusi.
A1 exit Casello di Chiusi-Chianciano Terme, turn right on SP146, 3 km to Chiusi. Chiusi is a small town with very limited parking, there is a huge communal parking at the northern rim, 5 minutes walk to any location in town.
JAN to FEB Sat, Sun, Hol 10:15-12:45, 14:30-17.
Guided tours of the Labyrinth: 10:45, 11:30, 12:15, 15, 15:45, 16:30.
Adults EUR 7, Children (6-13) EUR 3, Children (0-5) free.
|Classification:||Water Supply Cistern|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
self guided, D=30 min.
Labyrinth: L=100 m, D=45 min.
Museo della Cattedrale e Labirinto di Porsenna, Piazza Carlo Baldini, 7 – 53043 Chiusi, Tel: +39-0578226975, Tel: +39-Cell-6827859, Cell: +39-349-2267013.
Touristic office, Via Porsenna 79, Chiusi (Siena), Tel: +39-0578-227667. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|6th-5th century BC||water supply built.|
|1932||Museo della Cattedrale established.|
|1984||current museum inaugurated.|
|1992||exhibition with oil paintings inaugurated.|
Labirinto di Porsenna (Maze of Porsenna) is the name of the subterranean structure below the Museo della Cattedrale (Cathedral Museum). The museum has three sections, the early Christian, medieval and modern era. There are stone sculptures, objects of silver and gold, sacred vestments and oil paintings. Extraordinary are two reliquary caskets made by the Embriachi workshop in the 15th century from wood and ivory.
But the highlight of the exhibition are the Benedictine Codices, handwritten Christian books, created at the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore) during the second half of the 15th century. The monks were writing the books and created pen miniatures. But there are also brush miniatures in the codices which were created by famous artists such as Sano di Pietro, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Bartolomeo Varnucci, and Liberale da Verona. The collection of 21 Benedictine codes was originally in the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. During the Napoleonic occupation Monsignor Giuseppe Pannilini saved them from the French troops. In 1810, he donated them to the Chapter of the Cathedral of Chiusi.
The tunnels of the Labirinto di Porsenna were originally part of a complex Etruscan fresh water system which extend under the whole city. When the Romans came they were astonished, Pliny the Elder called it an "inextricable labyrinth" in his Naturalis Historia. If the story about the sarcophagus of the great Etruscan King Porsenna in a golden chariot drawn by twelve all-gold horses, watched over by a hen and five thousand chicks made of gold, is actually true is unknown. Similar graves exist, though not with that amount of gold, but this seems to be a Medieval legend fueled by actual findings. But the grave was never found, although it has been sought for centuries. Nevertheless, the "labyrinth" was named after Porsenna.
The tunnels of the labyrinth are actually underground aqueducts, fresh water channels connected to cisterns. One of them still contains fresh water, and is dubbed an "underground lake". It is a huge Etruscan-Roman cistern from the 1st century BC. It was connected to the aqueducts by a tunnel built by the Romans. The cistern is covered by a double vault and supported by a large central pillar.
The tour also shows a section of the city wall and the remains of a luxurious private house of Roman origin. There are inscriptions and urns in alabaster, marble, or travertine from the late 4th and early 3rd century BC.
The museum is open continually, and self-guided, so it is a good place to wait for the next underground tour. The tours start six times a day, follow 100 m of tunnel and end in the bell tower. It is possible to climb the tower and admire the panorama.
The Museo della Cattedrale is located on the right side of the cathedral, in the Palazzo Vescovile. Its full name is Museo diocesano della cattedrale e cunicoli etruschi di Chiusi, probably the reason why it is normally shortened. The museum shows some archaeological finds from the catacombs of Santa Caterina and Santa Mustiola and from the excavations carried out in the Cathedral.