A young, elegant and handsome Apollo, busy hunting a lizard. After the bronzes, it is a monumental statue, a marble copy of the Greek Praxiteles, the last wonder returned by the boiling water of the excavations of S. Casciano. An extraordinary find, the head of the excavations Jacopo Tabolli (Unistrasi) anticipates to Ansa, which is accompanied by an incredible stone donary with a bilingual inscription as well as many other objects and which opens new glimpses into the god's relationship with the care of health, in particular of the eyes.

"The excavation of San Casciano never ceases to amaze" applauds the director general of archaeology Luigi La Rocca from the Mic: "Not only bronzes, therefore, were dedicated to the health-giving divinities worshipped in this extraordinary sanctuary of the waters, but also marble statues, of value, sometimes replicas, as in this case, of Greek originals, testimony of the frequentation of subjects belonging to the most varied social classes, from the rich Etruscan aristocracies to the humblest workers engaged in the construction of sacred buildings".

And that's not enough. Because by widening the perimeter of the excavation - writes Ansa again with Silvia Lambertucci - what at first appeared to be a small sacred building built around the spring and its ritual pool, has turned out in recent months to be a real temple with the portico adorned with four columns and the central part with the large basin partly covered by a podium adorned with large statues, one of which was perhaps that of the young Apollo.

A jewel of monumental architecture and hydraulic engineering, in short, built, in total continuity of worship, on top of an older Etruscan chapel whose splendid walls have been brought to light in recent months. Although the Romans, perhaps in order to make their temple more stable, wanted to adjust its orientation on the ground, rotating it slightly, after having enlarged and made more sumptuous the basin intended to receive the offerings.

"A further proof of the sacred value that was given here to the hot water of the spring, which was felt just like a divinity that flowed from the earth and that had its home in this temple," Tabolli points out, pointing to the tapered limbs of the large statue, just entrusted to the care of the restorers. The emotion is strong, even if, unlike the bronzes now on display at the Quirinale that have come down to us intact, this Apollo is unfortunately reduced to pieces, some of which, such as the arms and parts of the head, have yet to be found.

"It was no coincidence, this statue was deliberately broken and then thrown into the basin right at the time of the definitive closure of the site, in the fifth century AD, it is difficult to say with certainty whether for a last pagan ritual act, of protection or if it was the iconoclastic will of the Christians," notes the director of the excavation, archaeologist Emanuele Mariotti, pointing to the point where the impetuous force of the water, which now gushes out at 30 litres per second, has brought the splendid legs of the god out into the open.

"They were hidden by a column lowered vertically just to close and seal everything - he explains - when we found them in front of us it was crazy. Behind the legs, plunged upside down, came out the torso and then a small altar, in an incredible sequence." A pang in the heart in some ways even greater than the one felt a year ago, when the bronzes were pulled out of that water and mud.

"In our arms, that marble body was so warm that it seemed alive," Tabolli gets emotional. Because although in pieces, underline the archaeologists, who also in this case shared the discovery with a dense network of experts, the Apollo of San Casciano has enormous scientific interest.

Of the statue of Praxiteles - the original of which is perhaps the bronze preserved in Cleveland - there are several Roman marble copies exhibited in museums around the world, the best known in the Louvre and the Vatican. None, however, linked to a precise context, just as there is no myth that explains the meaning of that game of the god with the lizard.

"And instead here a link could come out and precisely with medicine - anticipates Tabolli - since the lizard for the ancients was linked to ophthalmic treatments and that specimens of bronze lizards have been found in the tank".

Apollo, in short, could have played an important role in this Tuscan temple where the ancients came to heal themselves, venerated and honored together with the divinity of water precisely because of its link with medicine and health care that were practiced here. "Let's also think about the other Apollo, the bronze one we found a year ago. And then to the various altars dedicated to the god," Tabolli points out. "Together with the god of water, a great protagonist of a story of illness and healing, of anguish and rediscovered hope that here is seven centuries long."