Point in Time: Città di Volterra Italy

It is not difficult to understand why the City of Volterra has been an important settlement for almost 3,000 years. It occupies a strategic position on Italy’s central spine in Tuscany, at a latitude similar to the Isle of Elba. It also guards the mountain passes that connects Siena with roads leading to Livorno and Montevarchi, where backpackers tread the same path today.

 Citta di Volterra Italy Historic City: La via del centro "Volterra"
La via del centro “Volterra”: Photo Francesco Sgroi / CC 2.0

Visiting Citta di Volterra Italy Historic City

Volterra Commands Attention, Always

When Neolithic hunter-gatherers settled in Volterra towards the end of the 8th Century BC, it provided a defensible position with fresh mountain water and abundant food. It was a major town in ancient Roman times and the seat of a Bishop from the 5th Century AD onwards. It fell to the Florentine Republic in the 12th Century. Only after that collapsed in 1530 did the exceptionally wealthy Medici family invest in it.

 Citta di Volterra Italy Historic City: Volterra
Volterra: Photo Laura.Foto / CC 2.0

History is Everywhere

The ancient Tuscan city has more than its fair share of theatres, piazzas, museums, art galleries, cathedrals, castle ramparts, etruscan walls, medici villas and ancient tombs to allow you to spend a week in Tuscany. When I was there last summer a bunch of drama students from the local college were acting out Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in a 1st Century BC Roman auditorium. This brought the place to life a hundred times better than any tour guide ever did, for me at least.

 Citta di Volterra Italy Historic City: Roman Theatre
Roman Theatre, Volterra: Photo Verity Cridland / CC 2.0

But the Present Belongs to Me

But you know what: I am still a rebel at heart and I go where I wish to. You can keep your ancient history. I still remember that student actor’s voice ringing out, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.”

The charm in Volterra and all of Tuscany for me, is not in ancient relics. It is found in delightful boutique shops – and ristorantes down side streets where I discover lamb shanks simmered in  last year’s country wine, and served with sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and a flourish the way that only Tuscans do.

 Citta di Volterra Italy Historic City: Flower baskets
Voltera, Tuscany, Italy: Photo Stefano Costantin / CC 2.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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  1. Top 5 Tuscan Hill Towns to Visit - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Volterra is one of the less-famous Tuscan hilltop towns, yet it’s undeniably worthy of a visit. This town dates from as far back as the ancient Etruscans. Perched on a lone-standing hill—a rocky outcrop, rather—Volterra boasts some of the finest views in Tuscany. There are old and beautiful architecture, an atmospheric town square and many stores selling local products. A feature that makes this town unique is the so-called Balze of Volterra, a number of canyons and cliffs that surround the town and make the town even more impressive. […]


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