Volterra – from the Etruscans to the Vampires…

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If you never heard of Twilight, you might be asking what do I mean with “vampires”? Volterra is now famous worldwide because of the second chapter of the successful saga Twilight, New Moon. The book written by Stephenie Meyer has become a movie with a wonderful photography, which shows in part the territory of Volterra. Who never heard of the story, this is about a human girl and a vampire who fell in love and must pass through many difficulties to stay together for the fact they belong to different worlds: human x vampire. Volterra appears on the second chapter of the saga, called New Moon, as the seat of the higher vampire leaders. The book and the movie has received much success among the teenagers and not only… among all those who have a crush on the fantasy or supernatural genre.

The positive thing on all this is the highlight that Volterra and its surrounding lands received as a bucket list destination. Actually, the scenes of the movie that show the town center have been shot not at Volterra but at Montepulciano, another one-of-a-kind medieval town in Southern Tuscany. Volterra can only be seen from its outside, which doesn’t spoil all the publicity the town has received.

 

Located in the Province of Pisa, set in this hilly area of Tuscany that is one of the most breathtaking landscapes ever between Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano, Volterra is a large medieval town positioned on the top of a hill with many points of limitless views. From the road, the view of the town uphill is as wonderful as indescribable. 

The origins of Volterra date back from the Etruscans period, which starts on the Pre-history and meets the ancient Roman times. The Etruscans were the local population who occupied the whole territory of Tuscany and part of Lazio during that period until they were completely subdued by the Roman Empire. Many artifacts of that people like funerary urns, ceramics, sculptures among other things can be seen in the oldest museum of the town (and of the whole Europe), the Etruscan Guarnacci Museum, founded on the 1761 and located in 15, Via Don Minzoni. Not to mention the imposing Necropolis of Marmini, an important complex of Etruscan tombs and the Acropolis, the ruins of the antique Etruscan city.

It is also very clear at Volterra the presence of the ancient Romans. It is still almost intact, a stunning Roman amphitheater, the Vallebona Theater from the period of emperor Augustus. The theater and the Archaeological Park which includes the Acropolis and the Roman baths can be visited with one single ticket, besides, the theater can also be watched from the top of a belvedere, as long as the medieval center has been built above it. The medieval and Renaissance heritage of Volterra is also amazing. First of all, there is the imponent Fortezza Medicea (a fortress built by the noble family Medici who ruled Tuscany during most of Renaissance time) which can be seen from a long distance along the road to reach the Volterra. The city still preserves most of its surrounding walls, originally Etruscan, then reconstructed in the Middle Ages. The inside is simply beautiful, starting from the entrances of the city through the main doors or some kind of small “terracotta” tunnels that work as secondary gates.

Walking along the narrow streets and alleys (cars are not allowed), designed by the unplanned construction of the buildings and houses, passing through charming wine bars, souvenir, and alabaster* stores, restaurants, and other interesting corners, you reach the main square – Piazza dei Priori – where you have the Town Hall – Palazzo del Priori – from the 13th century, of evident Florentine influence. Also, the Cathedral and the Baptistery date back from the same period, preserving most of their original features except for the interiors renovated during the Renaissance when many artworks of important Tuscan artists have been added. There are many other Churches, Chapels and Palazzi (buildings) to be visited, as well as the Sacred Art Museum and the Civic Museum the so maybe just a one-day trip is not enough, just like every single town of this rich and enchanting Region!

So, for now, I’ll stop here… please keep following me for further information about Volterra and other tips.

*p.s.: The alabaster is a mineral which is plentiful present in the territory of Volterra. The type existing there is very similar to marble but is almost transparent. In fact, before glass reached occidental Europe, especially the white type of alabaster usually was used for windows, up-lighter lamps, etc.

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