Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Scotland, Scotland, United Kingdom
October 2, 2010
From journal TRAVELS IN TUSCANY
July 28, 2005
From journal Under the Tuscan Sun
May 5, 2003
Volterra, a haven of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval, and Rennaissance art, dominates the Cecina Valley. It's 550 meters above sea level, affording a spectacular view as far as the sea.
From journal Volterra
by Bear in Britain
Windsor, United Kingdom
November 4, 2002
Like so many towns in Tuscany, Volterra sits top a high hill. This hill is unusually big and towers above the average, however, hinting at the town’s origins. Volterra was one of the capitals of the ancient Etruscan empire, built to impress and defend. Today the advantage of the site is the view, which stretches for miles and takes in the sea on a good day.
Alabaster is Volterra’s real draw today; it’s one of the world’s main sources. If you think of it as a chalky stone made into eggs and chess sets you wish you hadn’t bought on that Mexican holiday, reconsider! Alabaster in its finest form can be cut remarkably thin, retain its strength and be almost translucent. They Egyptians filled their tombs with it. Romans established a fad for alabaster windows. As late as the 1930s there was a rage for alabaster lamps and light covers in the homes of the very wealthy.
If you’re going to buy alabaster, buy here. Shops will talk you through the difference between the various grades of stone and show you a bewildering variety of goods, from affordable beads to those art deco style light sconces. (At $150 they were at least half the price I’d seen them for in upscale decorators’ shops.) Browse through the big stores on the main streets. But before you buy, check out a few of the individual artisans’ shops down side streets, and usually marked with directional signs. Here you can watch things being created and get a slightly higher quality of work. I bought a lovely vase that had just come from beneath its maker’s polisher.
The alabaster craftsmen set an artisan mood for the whole town. There are many tiny craft studios where you can watch the artist creating what goes in the windows. These places do tend to turn over a lot but I will recommend Cercando L’Oro at 55 Via Guarnacci and hope he’s still there. The jeweller works in both gold and silver creating stylish modern pieces inspired by Etruscan designs.
Volterra is blessed with some fine Roman ruins, notably the theatrical complex that’s cut into one part of the hillside. This is a bit of a walk from the town centre, but don’t miss it! It’s a top sight. Otherwise, simply wander and drink it all in. There’s a lovely duomo with surprising "faux" marble columns that give credit to the painters. The town square is reminiscent of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, but on a much smaller scale. You can hike up to the top of town to see the meagre ruins of the Etruscan city and a Medici castle (enjoy from the outside only, it’s a prison!), and enjoy the peace of a grassy, tree-filled park.
From journal Tuscan Summers: Living "La Vita Buona"