Volterra visits - Travels in Tuscany

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VOLTERRA
City of wind and sandstone, land of salt marshes and alabaster caves, Volterra looms over the valleys of Era and Cecina with its grey medieval profile. Jagged ochre cliffs, the steep Crags, cut across the faces of the hills on which the city rises, a grandiose sight produced by the power of the geological stratification and the inexorable process of erosion. In this way, for centuries, nature has advanced threateningly to the shoulder of this jewel of medieval Tuscany, as untouched in its composition as its imposing defensive position would indicate. Soaring tower-houses rise over the ancient historic centre, held together by the ring wall and enriched by Renaissance palaces.

The past of this magic city, however, which was among other things a stage for Luchino Visconti’s movie (Vaghe Stelle dell'Orsa), has roots much older than the age of the Communes and it stretches back 26 centuries, when Velathri (its Etruscan name) was one of the Etruscan capitals. Evidence of that distant time is visible in the rooms of the Guarnacci Museum, where ceramics, bronzes, art objects, and hundreds of urns tell an ancient story full of charm and mystery. Very suggestive is the Urn of the Spouses (First Century BC) with the two dead figures laying in an embrace and quite realistically represented and in a nearby room there is the Ombra della sera, a small bronze with quite a mysterious aspect.

Worth a visit are in particular the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the Roman Theatre.
In the streets of the center, artists’ workshops reveal the secrets of alabaster working, while the typical restaurants delight us with very attractive gastronomic proposals. In Volterra the pecorino cheese, the salami and the other cold cuts, the roast lamb, the truffles, and the wild boar are all of the highest quality.


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