They’re the influential civilization hardly anyone’s heard of. Time to redress the balance.

“I sposi” (the married couple), detail from an Etruscan sarcophagus. Image: Dreamstime

The Romans. Famous for their straight roads, underfloor central heating, emperors, gladiators, cities, togas… Ask who invented something ancient and clever, and a spectral Roman arm will rise up from the annals of history and stake claim.

But none of the above ideas are Roman, even though they want us to believe they are. They have tried to erase the real founding civilization from getting the credit they deserve.

Well, enough is enough.

Step forward Etruscans. It’s your well-deserved turn in the spotlight.


The Etruscans were an ancient and powerful pre-Roman civilization who lived in Etruria. If Italy is a…

How liminal space theory and a dash of Renaissance wisdom can help when your life is between acts.

Florence, Tuscany Image: ELG21 Pixabay

Throbbing with life 24/7, Piazza Santo Spirito, in Florence’s achingly cool Oltrarno district, has been a meeting place since medieval times. Edged with gasp-inducing 15th and 16th-century buildings (including Palazzo Guadagni, on whose chilly candlelit balcony my chaplain husband, wearing army dress uniform, proposed) it is dominated by a Renaissance church designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the guy who put the dome in (or should that be on) the Duomo, Florence’s iconic cathedral.

It is the last place on earth you would expect to see a porcupine.

But there it was, clicking and skipping its way past 500-year-old carved wooden doors…

The hidden dangers of Florence’s masterpieces.

Image from Briam Cute: Pixabay

Florence is drenched in art. It is on every corner, down every cobbled street, in every piazza and palazzo. Never mind Tony Blair’s genteel “hand of history” on your shoulder. In this Tuscan city, history pulls you into her arms, kisses you passionately, then swings you around and around until your head spins.

For some people, this is more than a metaphor. The myriad masterpieces in Florence actually make them ill. Symptoms of “Florence Syndrome” include nausea, dizziness, fainting, panic attacks, hyperventilation, tachycardia, temporary amnesia and disorientation. Some hallucinate. Some end up in hospital, literally overwhelmed by beauty.

Despite sounding…

Could the answer to one of the world’s greatest mysteries have been under our noses all this time?

The astounding Newgrange monument, County Meath, Ireland. Image: Shutterstock

The legendary lost island of Atlantis. Everyone’s heard of it and everyone’s got an opinion.

Was it just an elaborate fiction given to us by the Greek philosopher Plato in 360 B.C.? Or was it a “mother culture”, a real place with an advanced Stone Age civilization?

The answer is a bit of both.

The legend of Atlantis was passed down by word of mouth thousands of years before Plato first heard it, so it’s hardly surprising that some details got distorted over time. Truth became history, history became legend and legend became myth. Plato’s account is exaggerated, contains historical…

How a retired foresight scientist’s unusual approach has led to rethinking Troy’s location and the motives for the Trojan War.

The new shield of Achilles, the key to unlocking Troy’s secrets. Image: Sybren Vlasblom.

When award-winning Dutch innovation expert Henk van Oosten retired, he wasn’t interested in taking up golf or bridge. Instead, he decided to solve one of ancient history’s most enduring mysteries.

Using skills acquired over many years in foresight studies and his experience as a sailor, he took on the knotty topic of the Trojan War and Odysseus’ travels. Were they just myths conjured up by Homer to entertain his Greek audience or could they be something more?

He treated the search as if it were one of his innovation projects, using wide spectrum thinking and knowledge from diverse fields. And…

Grabbing grief by the balls.

Image: Fiona Cameron Lister

In a dazzle of moves the funeral director closed the program on his computer, fiddled with his fly and leapt to his feet. We hovered at the doorway, not quite believing what we had seen.

Signore, ladies, good afternoon. Please, take a seat.”

I shot a glance at Judith. Yet rather than ricocheting out of the house of porn, we perched obediently on the worn velvet chairs in front of the desk, which bore the jaunty sign: “Life is Fashion!”

My husband had been dead for just 45 minutes.


We had moved to Italy from Britain in 1994, bought a…

I’m bright, well-educated, liberal, not a Covid denier, an anti-vaxxer or a conspiracy theorist, just a normal person. So what is going on?

Image Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

My friend Helen messaged me. “They’ve got the vaccine in Tuscany!!! I managed to get on the list!!! Here’s the link, don’t be put off if you can’t get an appointment, it took me three goes!!!”

Helen likes the idea of the vaccine as much as she likes exclamation marks. She was surprised when I told her I wasn’t keen and wouldn’t be rushing to make the list. To her credit she didn’t try to persuade me otherwise or really pursue any kind of discussion about it, which I was very grateful about, because most people are quite the opposite.

Did one of the world’s greatest forgotten civilizations build pyramids? I decide to find out.

The Sasso del Predicatore, Bomarzo Photo: Salvatore Fosci

I’ve had a thing about pyramids ever since visiting Mexico in the early 1980s. I went to Teotihuacàn, location of an ancient complex dating back to 200 ACE which contained the third-largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun. In those pre-digital camera days, I documented the event on my Brownie 127 camera which had a roll of film that took just eight photos. These had to be delivered to a developer and collected a week later, while you kept your fingers crossed they had all come out. I had brought one roll for the whole of my…

How a recent unsung discovery might lead to a cure for Coronavirus…

Image: Lothar Dieterich, Pixabay

Covid-19 has brought our modern world to its knees. There is barely a country, town or village on the planet that has not been affected by the disease and its restrictions. For over a year now we have been engaged in a global battle against an invisible enemy with no respect for human life, institutions or borders.

The trouble with the Coronavirus is that it is what it says on the tin — a virus. Life would be so different if the spiky invader was a bacterium.

Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms, which vary in shape and structure. There are…

90 days ago I watched with disbelief as Florence shut down. Here’s what my friends and I think now we’ve emerged from lockdown.

Image: Argo Images, Pixabay

On February 24 this year, I wrote one of the first articles about the Coronavirus as I watched dramatic scenes unfold from our apartment in the historic centre of Florence, Italy. In front of my eyes the city closed down, changing from a bustling, vibrant, tourist-filled Tuscan icon to a ghost town in a matter of days. On February 24 the death toll in the whole of Italy was two souls. It was pre-lockdown, but I knew from the unprecedented events I was witnessing that something very big was happening.

Apart from describing the situation on the ground from what…

Fiona Cameron Lister

British Writer, Editor in Tuscany, Italy. Topics: Nature, Ancient History, Spirituality. twitter: @writerinitaly

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store