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September 17-19


September 17:

After lunch in Rome we were whisked away by bus through the Lazio, Umbria, and Tuscany countrysides to our destination, the walled city of Volterra. I'm glad I wasn't driving because those roads were narrow! We hit Volterra just before sunset with enough time to walk our bags to the hotel. Then off for a tour group dinner!

Dinner was an amazing ravoli with meat sauce, followed by stewed wild boar (cinghiale in Italian).
The tour group dinners are super fun. They try to switch tables up so you get a chance to talk to everyone.
Coffee Break! Guess who got to have the pretty one?
Look at all the neat models. They are used for carving alabaster statuettes.
This one has a scene from the Odyssey on the bottom!
Our cocktails were served up by the owner himself!
They had a pretty nice little civic art museum
Wild boar snacks! I really wanted to take some home with us.

September 18:

OMG! Volterra is so cute! I guess I just really love a walled city. It reminds me of Rothenburg and York and Venice, all of which I loved. We started the morning off with a walking tour of the city by local guide Annie. And it turns out it was festival day in Volterra. We had some brigidini cookies before starting our walking tour. Annie's enthusiasm for the Etruscans and Volterra is infectious. On the tour we stopped by the original Etruscan gate and the Roman theater.

Tim and Marge with their  "mother-in-law" nuts

Then the tour stopped for an alabaster carving demo at Alab'Arte. Alabaster is a Volterran speciality. We watched Roberto make an incredibly fine bowl on the lathe in about 10 minutes. Stunning work!

The tour finished at the Museo Etrusco. This has to be one of the coolest museums on a subject I hadn't really heard of! The Etruscans carved gorgeous, elaborate cinerary urns to hold the ashes of their loved ones. As Volterra was the center of Etruscan culture, they have the world's best collection. Such artistry on display!

After lunch we decided to make the most of our city passes by visiting as many sights in Volterra as we could before the afternoon's tour activity. We visited the Palazzo dei Priori (town hall) and climbed the bell tower, the Pinacoteca Civica (art museum) to see the mannerist masterpiece by Fiorentino, the Alabaster Museum, and the archology park with Roman cistern.

The alabaster is carved so thin the light shines through.
This is an example of a tomb the urn would be buried in.
View from the top of
Museo Etrusco.
Cute little terracotta art!
Yep, that's a cistern.
Poor Mom. 
Walking up and down the hills was too much for her foot and she had to ice it.

For lunch we stopped at Antica Velathri Cafe on Annie's recommendation to get some extremely fancy cocktails and an amazing set of sandwiches!

At 6 we met up with the tour group for a wine tasting! The wine tasting was run by Annie's husband Francesco. It was a delight! I was totally winning on my tasting notes. Like I went 5 for 5! We also learned that all Tim's are just like that. Perfect end to an excellent day!

I love all the stone buildings!

September 19:

Alas! We have to leave Volterra today. But Tim and I did get up a little early to enlist some help (Thanks Andrew and Art!) to get one of my favorite pictures of the trip! We may not have gone to Verona, but we played a little Romeo and Juliet anyway!


We also took the chance to snag some pictures of the town center without all of the festival tents setup. And we stopped in to see the plague ambulance chapel! I think if I was going to pick a city in Italy to live in Volterra would definitely be at the top of my list! 

Volterra's excellent city shield!
Lighting a candle at the chapel.

 We said goodbye to the quaint little town on the hill as we got ready to head to our next destination!

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