Episode 39: Exploring Etruria with Mary Jane Cryan

Hosts Sara, Jessica, and Michelle talk about the latest in Berlusconi’s legal battles as well as Italy’s role in the ongoing Libyan conflict. Then we’ll talk to Mary Jane Cryan, art historian and long-time resident of Italy, about Etruria and Etruscan culture.

Eye on Italy News Stories:

Special Guest

Mary Jane Cryan is an American-Irish writer and historian who has been living in Italy since 1965. An educator and administrator at international schools in Rome, Genoa and Moscow, she also directed Elderhostel’s Rome program, and set up and taught for numerous study abroad programs, tour operators and adult learners. Her byline appears in scholarly journals, guidebooks, and print and online magazines. She is the author of several books, including Eturia – travel, history and itineraries in central Italy, as well as the website Elegant Etruria, blog 50 Years in Italy, and Facebook group Elegant Etruria Friends.

Eye on Italy Angolo d’Italiano:

  • Non basta una vita.
    • A lifetime is not enough (to explore Rome, for instance).

Eye on Italy Picks of the Week:

Video of the week:

  • How does Venice work?

Venice Backstage. How does Venice work? from Insula spa on Vimeo.


  1. I just listened to this podcast this morning and I’m going to have to order Ms. Cryan’s book.

    My grandfather–whom I had never met–was born and raised in Piansano, Italy – a small comune right in the middle of the area covered in the podcast. I have never been to Italy (though I will someday – it’s difficult at this time, having young children and limited resources), but I have tried to gather as much information about this particular area as I could, being greatly interested in how my grandfather and his family would have lived. I even taught myself Italian to aid in my research. As Ms. Cryan pointed out (and unfortunately for me), the area is rather “undiscovered” – which means that there is very little information available online about the area.

    When I do visit Italy someday, my intention has always been to spend the requisite time in Rome, then head off to Piansano and the surrounding area. This book should greatly help in planning that part of the trip.

  2. Dear Michael, I write-in Italian – for a lovely local magazine La Loggetta which is all about this area and specifically about Piansano.
    Would you like a copy of the magazine? contact Antonio Mattei, the editor at info@laloggetta.it – he will probably connect you with any relatives still there. They have a website with past issues archived …and in English too, since many, many people like you had relatives who left Piansano to emigrate abroad.
    They will be so happy to make contact with you…what is the family name ?

  3. Ms. Cryan – Thanks for the information! I had forgotten all about La Loggetta, frankly. I found it years ago when I started looking into my grandfather’s family history – and it was one of the items that spurred me to learn Italian – but for some reason I’d completely forgotten about it. I even sent an email to someone there, but very soon afterward we had many technical issues with our computers and I don’t know if they replied. If they did and I missed it, I apologize. I didn’t re-initiate the conversation as I didn’t want to be pushy.

    My grandfather was Joseph Mezzetti, born in Piansano in 1893. He emigrated to the United States in 1913 and died in 1950 due to complications from asthma. Honestly, not much more is known about his history except for (possibly apocryphal) anecdotes told by my father.

    I would love to get copies of the newsletter. The website appears to be momentarily “chiuso per manutenzione”, but I will try again soon.

    Thanks again!

  4. michelle

    Here is a Q & A exchange from Facebook:

    G.f. Roberts: It’s believed that the Etruscans had aqueducts, on some scale. Where can one be seen?

    Mary Jane Cryan: Yes, their canalization for water were amazing. We have examples throughout the Vetralla area, also at Veio (now Isola Farnese) Even our irrigation of our olive groves dates from Etruscan times.

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