Well, it was market day again yesterday, so after breakfast we toddled down to the carpark beside the Roman ruins to have a looksee. We all got little items of clothing. I bought sandles, as we hope to rent medieval costumes today, and wearing them with modern walking shoes is not a good look.

We have stayed in Volterra 6 times, for a total of about 9 weeks, and yet we still hadn’t visited the Roman or Etruscan ruins, so we decided to remedy that finally yesterday. I think it’s just €5 in per person (our visitor bought a Volterra Card, so she could check out most of the town’s main cultural attractions over 3 days) – which gets you into both the Roman site, and the Etruscan site in the public park.

The Roman site was pretty good – although you can’t climb into the actual theatre (except if you buy a ticket during their arts festival).

The Etruscan site, however, is rather tired-looking and in need of a bit of a cash-injection.  There are a couple of informational pedestals which are almost unreadable due to sun-damage, and the site itself is small.  I suppose it’s not bad for €5 per person, for both sites.  On the plus side, you can climb down into the Roman cistern here.  It’s a dizzying climb down a narrow spiral staircase into the chill, dank room below, but it’s mad to think they were engineering these things a couple of millenia ago.

Afterwards, we went to La Terra di Mezzo for lunch – wine and limoncello was had.

Niamh and I went to a crafts store to see if we could buy anything to start personalising the apartment, while our guest headed off to have a look at some other attractions.  We found a nice little cypress tree ornament, and a limited print of a lovely, stylistic painting of the walled village of Monteriggioni, which we have not yet visitied.  We’ll remedy that during this trip!

I crashed for a couple of hours, as I was still a bit bushed after yesterday’s trip to Pisa.  At around 17:20, I was groggy, but heard the unmistakable sound of drums heading our way.

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I’d forgotten that there would be some medieval fair stuff happening this evening.  I wrongly thought that it would be a repeat of last week, and hurriedly texted our guest to adviser her to make her way to Piazza dei Priori (the main square).  I got dressed and lashed up there myself.

When I got there, the lords and ladies were already arrayed at their table, and it seemed to me that the Master of Ceremonies (the same amazing riffing, rhyming guy from last week) was looking for volunteers for something.

As it happens, it was for racing cheese-wheels (well, wooden versions) around a simple course in the square.  It was professionals versus volunteers, and was a bit of fun.  They have their own ‘palio’ involving these cheese-wheels they race down an obstacle course in October (the ‘Palio dei Caci’).  Sadly, we will be missing that.  So, this was a good alternative!

You can check out a short video of a bout here:

They announced that something was going to be taking place in the square at 21:30, but my meagre Italian didn’t pick up exactly what it was.  We went home and had the first set of a large batch of beef ragú Niamh made up.  It was nice and coarse – I love it that way!

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After dinner, we had a couple of glasses of wine, and I managed to catch this gorgeous panoramic shot of the sunset from our upper terrace.

We went to the square, just in time to catch the entrance of the dignitaries, combatants and the teams representing their contrade for the Palio del Cero.

The teams would be contesting in a tug-of-war competition!

Once again, it was a knock-out affair, with semi-finals and a final.  The sbandieratori (flag jugglers) put on a couple of shows before the semis, and the final itself.  A fun evening, although we didn’t get bleacher seats and so were a little foot/backsore after nearly two hours of standing in the same spot.

The lord and lady representing the winning contrada were frocked and awarded.

And then, to bed.

I woke up, but decided on not doing a walk today, as I will be on my feet for the Medieval festival for much of the day.  We also have an All-Ireland final to watch this afternoon!

I’ll tell you all about the 2nd day of the Medieval Festival tomorrow.  Toodles!

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