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  • Day19

    Tuscany: Volterra & San Gimignano

    May 22, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌫 14 °C

    Just a two-hour drive from Florence, you'll find Volterra, a walled hilltop town in the Tuscany region of Italy. This town has perhaps the best sightseeing of all of Italy’s small hill towns and plenty of history dating back to the 8th century B.C. Its out-of-the-way location keeps it from being trampled by visitors, and so this was an ideal location for us after bike tour in Croatia.
    One interesting story here was of the 2300 year old Etruscan Arch that was part of the defensive wall surrounding the town. During World War 2, the German army was retreating from Volterra on June 25, 1944. The locals were told that the Archway was going to be blown up the next morning to slow down the Allies who were approaching the next day. To save the Arch, locals worked through the night digging up paving stones making up their road and piling them up to build a wall within the Arch. The Germans decided that they wouldn’t waste their dynamite, and so the Arch was saved.
    San Gimignano is the epitome of a Tuscan hill town, with 14 medieval towers still standing (out of an original 72). Packed with tourists, this nearby town was worth a morning stopover with breathtaking views.
    Siena is nearby as well, and that is best known for its huge square (the largest in Italy) where the famous Palio horse race is held every year.
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  • Day13

    Day 13e. Volterra.

    August 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    As we finished our self guided tour of the town hall the locals started their festival with cheese rolling and other theatrics just outside the front doors. We took a seat in the temporary stand and watched for awhile but the language was foreign to us.
    Then we moved our car because the brilliant spot we had was changing to a tow away zone in the morning because of the festival.
    We had a meat and cheese platter and beer for dinner then did a lap of the city before settling into a glass of white chianti wine at a street wine bar.
    Wouldn't you know it! More bands and flag throwing medievals marched up and down the street. These people really are pleased to see us!
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  • Day13

    Day 13a. San Gimignano, Tuscany.

    August 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Within the city walls of San Gimignano, in the Middle Ages there used to be 12,000 residents now there are 4,000 within the wall and 6,000 outside the wall.
    The city is encircled by 13th-century walls, its old town centres on Piazza della Cisterna, a triangular square lined with medieval houses. It has a skyline of medieval towers, including the stone Torre Grossa. The Duomo di San Gimignano is a 12th-century church with frescoes by Ghirlandaio in its Santa Fina Chapel.Read more

  • Day14

    Day 14a. Volterra. Teatro Romano.

    August 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    The Roman Theatre in Volterra was built at the end of Ist century BC, during the Augustan period, consulship of Aulus Caecina Severus. It was built within the perimeter of the Etruscan/Roman defensive walls, against steep slope. Theatre capacity is estimated on 2,800-3,500.
    The quadriporticus flanks the remains of the Roman Baths erected when the theatre was abandoned at the end of the III century A.D.Read more

  • Day14

    Day 14. Volterra.

    August 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Susie got to wear her new clothes. Most of her clothes were for trekking. But in Volterra she needed style.
    Breakfast at a local bakery then off to the Teatro Romano, our third attractions on the Volterra Mini Tourist Card.
    Lunch stop at a Panineria where you can choose your roll, cut meats (sliced fresh), cheeses, fresh/roasted vegetables and condiments. So delicious. We had rye roll, olive paste, Tuscan ham (like prosciutto), fresh tomatoes, roasted eggplant, pecorino cheese for 6 Euros.Read more

  • Day13

    Day 13c. San Gimignano to Volterra.

    August 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Drove to Volterra to the old city and drove through the narrow streets to our accommodation. I found this very nerve wracking but Ron took it in his stride. Our host could not speak any English but we settled in happily. Great accommodation with fabulous room, bathroom and a share kitchen with free cold bottled water and coffee machine. La Torre Affittacamere Apartments.
    We went for a walk, looked at the stores and I bought shorts and a top.
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  • Day13

    Day 13d. Volterra, Priori Palace

    August 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    We bought a tourist card for Volterra that is valid for 72 hours for 26 Euros for two people.
    There is a festival tomorrow in the town square so we visited the two attractions that will be closed to us tomorrow, Palazzo dei Priori and Acropoli Etrusca.
    The most ancient palace in the Piazza dei Priori is the Palazzo dei Priori, the present day Town Hall designed by Richard of Como.
    The building work began in 1208 and was completed in the middle of the 13th century.
    Volterra's Palazzo dei Priori is the oldest Government Palace in Tuscany. It served as the model for most of the Government Palaces built there during Medieval times.
    We walked to the public park about 5:15pm where the acropolis ruin is situated however the entrance was already closed and preparations underway for the festival tomorrow.
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  • Day14

    Day 14b. Volterra, Museums.

    August 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Museo Etrusco Guarnacci
    This contains hundreds of funeral urns with lids depicting the deceased lounging at a feast or similar. Unbelievable.
    The Guarnacci museum is one of oldest public museums of Europe: it began in 1761 when the noble abbot Mario Guarnacci (Volterra 1701-1785) gave its enormous archaeological heritage, collected over years of research and purchases, to the "public of the city of Volterra".
    The visit of the museum begins with the early Iron Age IX-VIII centuries B.C. The ground floor the Villanovan and Classic eras and continues on the second floor to the artistic splendour of Etruscan Volterra from the IV-I centuriesB.C. The second floor also displays the reconstruction of tombs and burial furnishings of the Hellenistic Period ( IV -I century B.C.).
    Teatro Persico Flacco
    The architect Luigi Campani (the former architect of Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany), was appointed to make the theatre for Volterra; the work began in the 1816 and was completed in 1819. The theatre was inaugurated one year later, in 1820.
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  • Day14

    Day 14c. Volterra, Museums.

    August 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Pinacoteca E Museo Civico.
    I found The Deposition from the Cross by Rosso Fiorentino very interesting. It depicts two different emotive tensions: sorrow (bottom characters, bowed heads expressing the agony of their grief) and concerned urgency (top characters, muscles stiff in the tension of the moment).
    We also visited The Persio Flacco Theatre which is an active opera and theatre stage. In 1816 a group of citizens, including cavaliere Bartolommeo Falchi, cavaliere Mario Maffei, Luigi Ducci, Francesco Cinci, and Luigi Campani, commissioned the architect Luigi Campani (an architect of the Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany). The theatre was erected on the site of the palazzo belonging to Marchesi Incontri. Work began in 1816 and the theatre was inaugurated in 1820.
    Palazzo Viti, one of the finest private residential buildings in Italy, still inhabited by descendants of the Viti family.
    Ecomuseo Dell’Alabastro.
    The Alabaster Ecomuseum is an environmental museum that tells the story of an ancient craft specific to Volterra from the excavation of the stone to its production and commercialisation.
    The “museum of commercial archaeology”, housed in the Minucci medieval house-tower documents the alabaster craft from the Etruscan era to the present day.
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  • Day14

    Day 14d. Volterra. San Stefano.

    August 18, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    San Stefano is an Etruscan Church. It is a simple church with little information.
    Time for pre dinner wine and antipasto. Local region Bulerino red wine and local meats, pecorino cheeses, honey and jams at Porcellino Restaurant.
    Finally we sat in the street outside our Volterra home and watched the procession of people drift by.....and the bus.Read more

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