Orte is a tufaceous rock along the river Tevere, 40 minutes away from Rome.
The first attempt at occupaing that rock are dated back to Bronze Age, around 2500 years b.C.
The city properly intended was founded around the sixth century b.C. by the Etruscans as a colony for Orvieto, that because of Orte's good placement along the major communication's routes. Which is a role that is still well seen in my town.
Orte is the classical rock city, all tight togheter on a hill.
Here's a pic of it under the snow.
So, on a first sight this town has nothing unique.
What makes my town really unique are
You would never guess walking on the streets but, under your feet, there are three floors of cunicles and cisterns.
Something like this:
All this huge system was excavated by the etruscans when they first occupy the rock to bring the water inside the city.
Infact tufacean rocks have no natural water reserve and you have to bring the water from outside or gather it from rain. Obviously for a city being dependant on rain for water is almost like hell, so they decided to do such a big work just to assure water all the year long.
Cunicles are an amazing system. Usually they are 1,60 meters high and 0,60 meters wide. Originally only water ran in them but now we are used to walk inside to visit and during WWII they were used as a route of communication between all the refuges.
That's how cunicles look like.
I'm one of the authorized tourist guide so I'm used to those underground places as I am with my house I can run through them with lights off (and I did because shit always happen).
We also have the duty to clean and restore them so people can visit and so the undergrounds are well treated (and not used like a dump anymore).
That's why we always are busy exploring and excavating those underground. People in Orte call us "The gang of the Hole" ah ah ah and they're so afraid that our excavations are going to make all the city fall down one day or the other (but no...we don't make holes, we just clean already existant holes...almost).
You can find other amazing things down there such as old roman wells:
It's a hard life to live...
We live really difficult moments, such as those:
You can't go forward and you can't go backward and you're just stuck in a pile of rotting wood and other shit you don't really want to touch...or breathe for what matters.
On the underground there are also some beautiful big rooms used for the most different reasons, such as basements, handcraft places, storing of animals, crypts for churches, cisterns and coetera.
But in time all those places were filled with all the dump people had in the upperground, such buildings ruins, earth...tons of earth and waste of all kind.
We have to clean all that up.
You can find amazing things in those mounds of everything. Like old plates, toys, newspapers (and pornographic magazines), and in this case above a full collection of bottles from a 50's bar:
"Appia Cola" ah ah ah...that made me LOL big time!!
But as things clean out you can find such amazing things as this:
Which is a roman cistern dating to the first century b.C. - fist century a.C. with all the ground covered in hard court (called cocciopesto in italian). That's our new jewel.
That's indeed the thing that after all the sweat, the work, the stress and the claustrophobic sensation of being trapped under 5 meters of heart, makes you think that all the work was worth it and that your town is, indeed, unique.
But I must say the most unique thing in those underground is the team of people working with me. Most of them aren't archeologist and never studied that way at all, but they volunteer because them too as me think this town needs all the attention we can give. I knew few of them all my life, but most I met them when starting those works, and they're just wonderful persons, crazy as I am (or otherwise they couldn't work 10 hours straight in underground :D ).
Those are not only work mates, but friends right now. And I felt like thanking them here, because they make Orte a really unique place to live, for me.