A Volterran Walk, Art in La Sassa and a Cloudy Sunset in Micciano (21/12/2021)

A Volterran Walk, Art in La Sassa and a Cloudy Sunset in Micciano (21/12/2021)

I got up that morning to leave the trash out and film a walk around the town. On the way out of the apartment door, I bumped into the neighbour who was taking down his trash too. I offered to take it down for him, but he said he’d walk with me instead. We had a bit of a broken conversation, but he was saying he was surprised to see us as there are so many businesses closed for the season. I told him that it didn’t matter to us; that Volterra was lovely no matter the time of year, no matter the weather. He seemed pleasantly surprised by this. We said our farewells, and I went walking.

I didn’t take many photos, because I spent almost the whole time filming.

Here is the video I recorded – it’s a long one!

After I’d gotten home, showered and breakfasted, the neighbour called in again. He brought with him 4 shiny, freshly cut keys keys for the new lock on the apartment gate (see the previous blog). I paid and thanked him. He seemed hesitant to leave, but awkwardly spun on his heels and marched next door to his own apartment. That’s odd, I thought, but then head a revelation 30 seconds later: I’d forgotten to give him his own original back. I grabbed it, rushed to their door and knocked on it. I handed them the key back, denouncing myself as a mad idiot or somesuch, and got polite smiles (they are lovely, quiet people).

We hung around the apartment until we had an early lunch at La Sosta del Priore (as said in other blogs, this place was voted the best sandwich shop in the Pisan province). Ilenia (the owner) had advertised a burger with speck, and it looked lovely, so that’s what I had. Niamh had a split sausage sandwich. For the last year, Ilenia had owned the premises opposite, so people could buy her packaged produce, plus have a place to sit down and enjoy her fare. So, Niamh and I checked it out, and yummied down our sandwiches there.

Afterwards, we headed to the car. Why? We were going to another town I’d wanted to visit, but had never been to: La Sassa. But we had a mission there. An artsy one. We try to support artists in the region, and have begun a small selection which we have hung about the apartment. So far, we have art from:

  • Vanna Spagnolo, who has since left her premises in Volterra, to enjoy life in different ways. We have a couple of her lovely, colourful landscapes.
  • Fabrizio Ferrari, who produces abstract pieces. He sometimes uses acrylics, but frequently uses coloured Bic pens too – he produces some fantasticly detailed works – mostly sociological/political in theme, but not always.
  • Isabella Bisa – who produces some wonderful portraits, but mainly sells landscapes. She paints on canvases, handbags and purses. Although based in Pienza, she has a sales shop in Volterra.

This time we would be going to see Veronika, whose studio and shop is in La Sassa, in the Valdicecina – about 40 or so minutes drive from Volterra. On our way to the car, we stop off (yet again – they must have been tired of us by now) at our neighbours, to give them a little Christmas gift of Irish earthenware. It’s nice to be nice! Once again their apartment smelled wonderfully of slowly-cooking food.

We arrived at La Sassa, and as soon as we got out of the car, were immediately greeted by a local. The only person we saw at the time. Friendly place. La Sassa is perched improbably atop a narrow ridge, and the road heading up is winding and swirly, as you’d expect. The resulting views are wonderful though.

The town is small, but has a lot of higgledy-piggledy lanes throughout. Even though it’s barely larger than a hamlet, we were struggling to find Veronika’s studio.

I was on the verge of calling her when Niamh finally saw a tiny sign over a door in a hidden laneway which indicated the artist’s studio. We were greeted warmly (in Italian, although she is a Czech lady) and immediately ushered in to her small but busy studio where dozens of works lay leaning or piled throughout. We saw the work she had advertised on Facebook recently and offered the asking price. We had a look at a couple of other pieces, but decided we’d see how the one would do in our apartment for now. Here it is:

We left with work and had another potter about the village.

There was another little town I wanted to check out – Micciano. It looks like it’s nearby, but those pesky winding Tuscan roads make it otherwise. We bravely drove past the signs for Querceto (my favourite hamlet) and insisted we’d drive to our intended destination. There was a bar there which Google swore was open, but alas, it was still closed. Shame, as I was looking forward to interacting with locals a little and getting a chance to practice my Italian a little bit more. Plus there’s the “What they hell are these Irish people doing here?!” factor about it. Maybe it would open after – but it certainly hadn’t by the time we’d left.

Micciano is high up, and we manage to capture views of Saline di Volterra, from the other side – which isn’t something that happens with us too often. Sadly it was very cloudy, so the sunset was barely visible, but the colours were promising.

We then drove home. Not much happened on the way! You can see a very short video of La Sassa and Micciano below. I’d love to revisit both in sunnier weather some day.

Back home we chilled for a while, and hung the picure up. We were well-pleased with it. At the time of writing this, it seems that Veronika and Fabrizio have opened up a joint-venture store in Volterra, so we will definitely be visiting next time we’re over.

Then, as folk always do, we got restless and semi-hungry. We decided to head to Osteria Fornelli, and walked through the damp town to get to it. It was lit up so well and looked so inviting, but sadly it was hosting a private Christmas party, so back we went to Il Sacco Fiorentino.

Il Sacco Fiorentino is one of those places we don’t visit often enough – but I kind of know why. They used to serve the best wild boar burgers and fries, but seem to have taken them off their menu. Instead of still being huffy about that, we thought we’d finally give them another go (it’s been 18 months, Eoin – get over it!!).

We weren’t disappointed! If I had one complaint to make, it was that the portion of Zuppa alla Volterrana I got was freaking HUGE!

If I recall correctly, I had to finish off Niamh’s pasta. The sandwiches in La Sosta del Priore can leave you feeling fullish for a while. We rolled, groaning, out of the place… and took our shortest route home.

We got home, and Niamh went to bed while I stayed up for a bit and listened to music. Tomorrow, we would have to go to Pisa to pick up our guests!

Thanks for reading – please leave a comment or query – I’d love to hear from you!

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