Volterra is another of the many interesting Tuscan hill towns. After spending one afternoon walking the streets, I do want to return one day and spend more time. While we saw much of what it has to offer and purchased some lovely alabaster jewelry for Linda, there is much that we did not see in this small town.
|Coats of arms of past mayors, a common practice in Italy|
|The Etruscan Gate|
|After 2500 years, not much is left to show what this was|
|Monument to the saviors of the gate|
|The high-security prison|
Another of the interesting sights in Volterra is the Roman theater. Forgotten until the 1950s, this theater was rediscovered by an amateur historian who proceeded to excavate it with the help of mental patients at the local hospital. According to the guide book, this work proved to be therapeutic although there is no mention of how many were actually cured by the work. At any rate, the results of their work are interesting as we can now see the outlines of the theater while walking around the edge of the town along its remaining wall. One portion of the backdrop has been rebuilt so visitors can see the different levels of the stage, one for mortals, the second for heroes, and the third for the gods. In the third century AD, the locals began tearing down the theater and using the stones for bath behind the theater. I guess they found more entertainment in the warm water than on the stage.
|Note the small door and the few inches of space between the buildings|
We had rented one of those audio tour guides which helped quite a bit with learning about the town. The most interesting discovery it shared were the tower houses of Buonparenti and Buonaguidi. They had filled in the space between the two towers with a house once they had quit fighting each other. One narrow dooway was all that led up to the living spaces above the shops on the street. Behind the door was a ladder they pulled up at night for extra security. This arrangement meant that one man could easily defend both homes from any attackers.
|Wooden sculpture of the Deposition|
We also visited the Duomo built in the 12th century and the baptistery facing the entrance to the cathedral in Pisan style. One interesting feature is the sculpted relief of the last supper with Judas under the table being attacked by a dragon. Another shows the scene when God asked Abraham to prove his love by sacrificing his son Isaac. Mary is shown with daggers symbolizing the pain she felt as Jesus was crucified.
|Walls braced with arches, another common feature in these old towns.|
|A sculpture on a wall of a random building|