Volterra, Italy

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Once upon a time this blog was full of all things TWILIGHT. Yes, I must confess, I am a full-fledged Twihard. Team Edward all the way. We've been to Forks, seen all the midnight first release showings of the movies, read the books multiple times, and have Twilight ephemera scattered about - my favorite are our rocks nicked from La Push. So, in a nutshell, visiting Volterra was a must!
One of the many Italian hilltop towns we passed by:
Encircled by impressive walls and topped with a grand fortress, Volterra sits high above the rich farmland surrounding it. More than 2,000 years ago, Volterra was one of the most important Etruscan cities and much larger than we see today. Eventually, Volterra was absorbed into the Roman Empire and afterward for centuries it was an independent city-state before eventually succumbing to Florentine power.

The city hall on Palazzo dei Priori was built circa 1209 and claims to be the oldest in any Tuscan city-state. It clearly inspired the more famous Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Right next door to the town hall is the black and white striped cathedral.
This church is not as elaborate as its cousin in Pisa, but the simple 13th century façade and the interior with its central nave flanked by monolithic stone columns are beautiful examples of the Pisan Romanesque style.
Our boy. :)
Back out on the square. Gotta love seeing blue skies!
Charming café front.
Another church in the Pisan Romanesque style, the church of St. Michael dating from the 12th century.
Then we walked to the edge of town to see the Roman theater. Built in about 40 BC, the theater is well-preserved with a partially intact stage wall. The stage was standard Roman design - with three levels from which actors would appear. Parts of two levels still stand and you can also see remains of the Roman baths behind the theater area. Neato!
Grand views.
Cruising up and up!
Textured wall.
Liking this tree growing on the wall.
You know why :) (because it's PINK!)
Eventually we wanted to go check out the Medici fortress so we walked along the secluded lanes to go find it.

On our way we stopped by a sprawling park. When Florence conquered the pesky hill town, it burned the historic center and turned it into this grassy commons area.
Freshly painted bright green shutters.

Cool crest.
The Medici fortress:
It was originally built to keep people out, but now it keeps people in. How ominous. It functions as a maximum security prison housing only about 100 prisoners, most of them connected with the Mafia in Sicily.


We strolled along Viale dei Ponti enjoying the shade and cool breezes.

Volterra in all its glory!
I really loved this frame of papers that people from all over have written messages on.
Walking down to the Etruscan arch.
The Etruscan arch, built of massive volcanic tuff stones in the 4th century BC and formed part of Volterra's original walls. 
City pride.
By this time we were peckish, so we stopped in a local pizza-by-the-slice place.

Delicious! Almost tasted like New York style pizza.
We didn't get a family photo, for shame!
Coming up next: Siena.

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