Today, I thought I’d set out some interesting facts about Volterra itself, before eventually leading into why we chose the town to buy an apartment at a later date.
Volterra is the oldest continuously inhabited town in Tuscany. Located on a plateau between about 40km from the Tuscan coast, it lies about halfway between the northern and southern borders of that region. Artefacts dating to the Iron Age have been found there, and subsequent to the Villanovans of that period, one can find constructions by the Etruscans and Romans. However, today the town is largely medieval in layout.
Today, although visited by tourists, is a little off the beaten path and much of its charm is derived not only due to its aesthetic qualities, but because it is also a genuine working town. About 6,000 people live within the walls of the Centro Storico (historical town centre), with a further 6,000 in the immediate environs and countryside. Centuries ago, the walls of the town surrounded a larger area, and within about 25,000 were said to have inhabited.
Volterra is also the highest hill-town in Tuscany, and it commands some seriously panoramic views of the countryside, all the way to the Tyrrhenian sea on a clear day. Photos tend not to do it justice, and the vistas from its walls always take my breath away.
We settled upon Volterra immediately after our first visit. The enormous sense of place, the history, the people and the food bring us back again and again – but more on those another time.