Volterra in Black and white

We arrived in Volterra at the worst time of the day for taking photos, around mid-morning, when the sun is at its brightest, throwing everything not in its path into the deepest shadow. But I've learnt that in such circumstances the trick is to shoot in black and white. And so I did (but I promise to include a few photos in colour here and there). 
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

A short history of Volterra

Volterra has been settled since the Bronze-age and is believed to have been continuously inhabited since the 8th century B.C. It was an important Etruscan centre and two of its gates, Porta Diana and Porta all'Arco, date back to this time. Some defence walls from this era also survive to this day.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Volterra was allied to Rome in the 3rd century B.C and in the fifth century AD it became the seat of a bishop and its importance in this sphere lasted until the 12th centur,y when it captured the interest of the Republic of Florence, whose forces conquered the city. Florentine rule was not always popular and several rebellions broke out. When the Republic of Florence fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and its fortunes followed those of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Volterra's Landmarks

The Roman Theatre of Volterra

The Roman theatre dates back to the 1st century BC and was excavated in the 1950s. The theatre was financed by a wealthy family from Volterra and is constructed of local limestons.

Sincerely Loree: Roman theatre, Volterra. Italy

Palazzo dei Priori

Volterra's town hall was built between 1208 and 1257 and is located in the main square, close to the cathedral. The facade is decorated with terracotta plaques representing the coats of arms of prominent Florentine families. It is the oldest town hall in Tuscany.
Sincerely Loree: Palazzo dei Priori, Volterra. Italy

Cattderale di Santa Maria Assunta

The duomo of Volterra is dedicated to the assumption of Mary. It is a Romanesque building that was built around 1120 on the site of a previous cathedral that was destroyed by an earthquake. It was expanded in the mid-13th century.
Sincerely Loree: Duomo of Volterra, Volterra. Italy

Baptistery of San Giovanni

The baptistery is an octagonal 13th century building located in front of the cathedral. Its main facade is covered in white and green marble.
Sincerely Loree: Baptistery of San Giovanni, Volterra. Italy

Sincerely Loree: Baptistery of San Giovanni, Volterra. Italy

Porta all'Arco and Porta Diana

The Porta all'Arco dates back to the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. It was originally built by the Etruscans but was incorporated into the city walls in the Middle Ages. It lies directly opposite the other Etruscan gate of Volterra, Porta Diana. Adorning Porta all'Arco are three sculpted heads. It is not known who these heads represent but it is thought that they are likely Etruscan deities.
Sincerely Loree: Porta all'Arco, Volterra. Italy

Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit Porta Diana.

What I Loved About Volterra

I could say that my favourite thing about Volterra was the panino I ate from La Panineria Al Vicolino. It was truly one of the tastiest sandwiches I have ever eaten and I would love to go back to Volterra just to scoff another one. But there were plenty of other things that I loved about this Tuscan hilltop town. 
One of them was just seeing people going about their day-to-day chores. Cars are generally prohibited from the historic centre of many Tuscan towns and it was really special seeing inhabitants going around from store to store: the butcher, the baker, the pharmacy; and stopping on the way to chat with neighbours or acquaintances. The atmosphere felt so friendly and there was never a single moment when I felt unsafe or even unwelcome.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Although I didn't have much time to read about it at the time of our visit, Volterra's history, as you're probably aware by now, is pretty impressive. It has been continuously inhabited since the 8th century BC and it is these layers of history that make it so fascinating. All I had to do was touch the walls of buildings and I felt like the past was right there, just within my grasp.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

The historic centre of Volterra is characterised by narrow, winding streets dominated by medieval and early Renaissance architecture. Many buildings have very interesting architectural details on their facades and were clearly built with defence purposes in mind. Some of the doors we came across seemed constructed to withstand a siege. 

Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

But what I find most endearing about Tuscany, and Italy in general, is the attention to detail. The architecture is just amazing and everything, from lanterns to door knockers, just seems to have been created to inspire awe. While that may seem like an exaggeration, it probably isn't. While we are familiar with a unified Italy, it wasn't always so. For many years, different republics, regions and towns were at war with each other or tried to outdo each other by commissioning beautiful buildings and works of art. So a lot of what we see today is a result of this 'competition' between them and becauase of the frequent fighting and rivalries that broke out.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

When we visited Volterra last October, it was pretty quiet and the streets were not thronged with people, making it easier to get around without constantly bumping into crowds. The plan of the town seems to follow the contours of the hill it is built on, so it's not flat and walking around can be strenuous but invigorating.
Sincerely Loree: Volterra. Italy

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious when I say that I wish we had more time to get to know Volterra better. But maybe one day we will return. I know I am far from done with Tuscany yet.


Location: Volterra, Italy
October 2021

Debbie Nolan said...

Loree this place looks extraordinary...the antiquity of a place of that many years is hard for me to grasp. I am glad you took a lot of photos in black and white...it lends itself well to the drama and the age of this beautiful place. Your pictures and words want me to go to Tuscany...perhaps someday it will be possible. In the meantime I will savor your posts of this amazing city and Tuscany as well. Hugs!

Loree said...

@Debbie: I am so glad you enjoyed reading along. Thank you for your lovely comment. Volterra is a special place and we really enjoyed our visit there.

La Contessa said...

When we lived in FLORENCE well outside really I had us MOVING to VOLTERRA!There was this BRITISH older woman who was in REAL ESTATE!I wanted a RUIN to FIX UP but MY ITALIAN told me VOLTERRA was TOO FAR AWAY from his work!
I LOVED IT THERE..............
MALTA reminds me of TUSCANY............DOES IT TO YOU?

Loree said...

I think Tuscany is more beautiful. Malta is more similar to Puglia or Sicily.
Volterra was nice. My husband loved it (I preferred Pienza). We saw this really beautiful country house in the window of an estate agent while we were there and were sorely tempted. It didn't need fixing and even had a pool.

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