The Murphys' Italian Adventure travel blog

On the drive to Volterra

Our scenic drive

I wanted to take this statue home to put in our garden,...

Our drive through Volterra


Volterra flower shop

Wine of the Area

Real people live here.

The Roman theater

A favorite restaurant in San Gimignano

Beautiful city of S.G.

Nooks and crannies, the best part

The valley below

Wild boar everywhere

In the Piazza

One of the lovely shops

Sunset from our window

One last photo of S.G. from our window before leaving on Friday...

After a lazy start this morning, we headed out to drive the 17 miles of curvy road that takes about 45 minutes to drive, but the drive is through the most beautiful scenes you could imagine. Volterra was an Etruscan city centuries before the time of Christ--isn't it amazing to think that at least part of it was there more than 2000 years ago. Volterra's most famous sight is its Etruscan Gate, built in the fourth century B.C. At that time it had a population of about 25,000.

Eventually Volterra became part of the Roman Empire, and there are numerous reminders there of that era. One of those is a well-preserved Roman theater, built about 10 B.C. There was an excellent view of it from above from the city wall. Over time, garbage was thrown out from the city and covered the theater up, and it was not rediscovered until the 1950's. (Are you wondering where we learned all of this interesting info?)I give Rick Steves all the credit. I think we would simply wander around (and sometimes we do) without one of his wonderful travel books in hand.

We did some of that wandering as we walked the cobblestone streets, peeking into narrow walkways where real people really live, planting geraniums in their window boxes. As with most other old cities, there were several piazzas with lovely churches and city government buildings with interesting architecture. I learned that the baptistery was usually separate and faced the church because you couldn't enter the church until you were baptized.

We shared a pizza with wild boar topping for lunch at a cute little restaurant. Every menu in this area has wild boar on the menu in some form, and I am very adventuresome in my eating. Jim has to be encouraged to try out-of-the-ordinary dishes. He is far more adventuresome in his driving. I forgot to mention that when we arrived in Volterra and followed the road up to the top of the hill where the Old City is located, we saw cars entering through the ancient gate. So we did the same--and found ourselves on a street barely wide enough for one car (two way) and that was for residents only with stickers on their windshields. We had a hard time getting out without being issued a citation and stiff fine, but eventually we got out and found a parking lot.

In the afternoon we returned to San Gimignano, and after most of the day trippers had gone, around 6:00, we went into the beautiful old city for a fond farewell. Rick Steves calls S.G. "the epitome of a Tuscan hill town" with its fourteen medieval towers still standing (out of an original 60 or so.). Although it has the usual sights of a duomo in a lovely piazza, the big draw is the city itself, and wandering around is a very enjoyable pass time. So after dinner in a great (and tiny) little restaurant where we had eaten the night before, we walked up and down the streets and out onto a promenade overlooking a valley below filled with vineyards and where we were able to spot Ponte a Nappo, our home here for the past three days.

We captured a beautiful sunset from window after arriving back at the B&B, and we will pull ourselves away tomorrow and head for one of our favorite spots in Italy which we discovered when we were here about 15 years ago--Cinque Terre.

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