As you may remember from the end of my previous blog, I told you that our employer gave everyone an additional company day as a holiday, which led into the August Bank Holiday weekend. It was a wonderful gesture, and we grabbed the opportunity to do stuff with both hands. Up to now, we’d barely left the town, except to pick up monitors and coolers.
We got up and did a reasonable walk. We went from our apartment to Porta San Francesco, around to near Porta Fiorentina (the town entrance actually closest to us), and then walk by the cemetary, when I remembered something pretty exciting.
The cemetary is well-kept, and looks nice – a few snaps to follow. The second most interesting thing about it used to be that there is a free carpark opposite it. Now things have changed.
Back in 2015, a discovery was made of a large Roman oval theatre near the cemetary. This caused enourmous excitement, as all Roman theatres until then were known about, and were either kept for posterity (and tourism), or were re-purposed (for example the oval Piazza dell’Anfiteatro in Lucca, which is now an oval piazza surrounded by apartments and shops/restaurants). This theatre, however, was a new kid on the block. It is estimated that it had not been known about for maybe 400-500 years. In archaeological circles it made headline news. Now I can’t do it full justice, as I have never been to the dig site (there are photos that follow from outside it), but you can read all about it in Annie Adair’s stellar account here.
I’m still following the story on Instagram and Facebook, and it’s amazing to see it unfold. Anyway, there is another curio on the road – Porta Diana. I call it the sister gate to Porta all’Arco. It’s another Etruscan gate, which is sadly missing it’s arch. Beyond it, and a ways downhill are Etruscan tombs. We didn’t explore them today – but I recount them here.
We stopped off at Pasticceria Migliorini for a sweet Italian breakfast. Note the crest of the Medici family over the Porta Fiorentina.
We decided to go somewhere we’d driven past about a dozen times, but never stopped: Pomerance. We drove by the other ‘O’ on the way, but didn’t stop as the parking spot was taken.
We googled our way to a carpark, that was free, if I recall correctly. It was stinking hot – that much I remember for sure – push 36-37 celsius. We walked around the old part of town. It’s a nice place – much nicer than I thought it was going to be. It also had a nice cafe which had some oriental-style food on their menu. This is probably our biggest disappointment with Volterra. As much as we love Italian food, we probably love south-east Asian food even more – and have to travel 30-40km to find Chinese or Thai restaurants. And we have yet to find a restaurant that we’d consider great. So far, they have been… ok. Food on-par with what you’d get in a takeaway back in Ireland. Now we found a place that it might be worth a shot some day (we didn’t on this trip – sorry!).
We were a little too early to have food anyway, and hanging around probably wasn’t a great idea, due to the temperature. I suggested to Niamh that we try to see if Osteria dell’Ultimo Carbonaio in Montegemoli. We’d tried going there before, but sadly it was shut.
We got there and saw it was open. We sat outside underneath a covering, along with another, younger couple. We were joined again by a dude who rode a noisy motorbike into the hamlet. Basically, the only obvious business in Montegemoli is this restaurant. The village is worth a trip to see, though – and the restaurant certainly is. Both it, and Trattoria Albana in Mazzolla, are worth a trip outside Volterra itself if great food is what you’re after.
The food was wonderful! The antipasti were a tasty mix, and I was mad jealous of Niamh’s lasagne. I usually stay away from lasagne in Italy, as I (used to) consider them pedestrian. That’s a attitude I have to kill. A good lasagne in Italy is amazing. My own dish (pappardelle with wild boar sauce) was really good… just not as good as the lasagne.
Then home… Unfortunately, I didn’t make much of a record of what we did, so I assume that we ate light at home, and screen-watched. The sunset, however, was sublime – and capped off a great day.