I needed to look pretty for my trip back to Dublin, and went to the nearby barbers for a head-shave. Fortunately, he was standing outside with three buddies, gossiping, and was able to see me immediately. The dude takes his time and does an awesome job, but getting it done here is at least 25% more expensive than back at home.
Anyway, when that was done and paid for, I went to the Palazzo dei Priori. It is reputed to be the oldest townhall in Tuscany, its construction beginning in 1208 and finishing in the middle of the same century. It’s still the centre of local government today.
Inside, is the main seat of government, along with large areas for exhibitions. Finally, at the top floor, there is a stairway up to the bell-tower which gives you excellent views of the town below. It costs €6 per adult to enter.
At the time of writing this, they had exhibitions of modern sculture, and a photo-log of patients in the ex-mental hospital.
After finishing up there, I contemplated having lunch, but thought I could squeeze in a visit to the Guarnacci Etruscan museum before my belly really started to complain.
I went the shortest route, which involves a steep climb past the park, and then down some steps into Piazza XX Settembre, and then a 100m walk to the museum itself. The museum is one of the oldest in Europe, having opened in 1761. It is €8 in for an adult, and is housed in a lovely medieval palazzo.
Collections there include jewellery and other items found in very old funerary urns, a warrior’s burial tomb (along with his artefacts), hellenistic-style decorative urns, coins from the old Roman republics, statuary, and of course the omnipresent carved funerary urns.
If I had to level one criticism of the museum, it’s how prolific the urns are – there are rooms and rooms of them. Most are carved in alabaster, and as they become newer, their carvings become more intricate and impressive – but the whole scene begins to bore a little after a while.
Note also, that most of the descriptions do not have translations – but you can get an audio guide with select descriptions for an extra €3.
There are some masterworks in the museum. The first is a very creepy-looking statue called Ombra della Sera (shadow of the evening), and is of an elongated child. It’s extremely modern-looking for something that’s well over two millenia old – this probably adds to the creep factor. You can buy copies of it all over town. I might get one for myself.
The second is the funerary urn top of the ‘married couple’, an exquisitely carved older couple in alabaster. There is a school of thought that Etruscans carved people in their proper likenesses for these urns, but other scholars say that’s hogwash.
The last, and most controversial, is an early bust of (possibly) Apollo. You may notice that written in a large font beside it is the word ‘COPIA’, meaning that this bust is a copy of the original. The regional government in Florence saw fit to pilfer it for an Etruscan collection of their own. So annoyed was the mayor of Volterra (at the time – there’s since been a new one) declared it the ‘second sacking of Volterra’, the first being the Medici conquest in the 1470’s. Such language seems a little grandiose, but I totally understand it when Florence is already swimming in other cultural and historical goodies.
I met Niamh in La Mangiatoia for lunch. She had a veggie pizza, I had a burger – and a lovely one it was too – no photos of mine, I’m afraid.
Not much was done for the rest of the day, except that we went to La Sosta del Priore for sandwiches. Niamh had their burger, while I had a fab little mix of wild boar salami, pecorino, grilled zucchini and caramelised onions. That way you get fresh, sweet and salty one after the other. Fab stuff.
We did nothing else for the rest of the evening.
I got up for my last walk of this 9-week stay – we are heading home tomorrow morning. I made it a short route, but Volterra didn’t disappoint with more fantastic cloudscapes.
We don’t have anything planned, except for packing today. This may be the last blog, I’m afraid – but I’m toying with the idea of posting about other places I’ve been to in Tuscany, but not during this 9-week stay – there are a good number of them.