Markets, Crossbows and another guest! (27 & 28/08/2022)

Markets, Crossbows and another guest! (27 & 28/08/2022)

Market day! Yes, Saturday means market day in Volterra. During the tourist season, it sends to be on in the Vallebona carpark outside the walls, rather than in Piazza dei Priori, Via Roma and Piazza San Giovanni. It tends to be a little smaller as a result – not just as a result of a lower real-estate space, but people are on holidays. Plus this year, the remnants of Covid were still hitting. Still, they’re usually pretty lively events, and a great place to buy cheaper ingredients.

We picked up some foodie bits and bobs. Niamh checked out shoes and something light to wear to a beach, should we venture – but came away with nothing.

We had a light lunch of cuts, leaves and cheeses. In fact, I think this was possibly our lightest day of the holiday, apart from the first day, when we drove from Ciampino. Afterwards I went out to scout for a handbag for a friend (who visited us in 2019). I was an expert by now, so I was happy to advise.

I sent her the photos from the shop, and a day or two later I bought it for her! With one thing and another (mostly Covid and return to office) I didn’t get it to her for another couple of months – in fact, I had to drive to her house to get it off my hands!

Good deed done, I rewarded myself!

That evening, Niamh made a super little risotto, complete with parmesan crisp. It was delicious. And just the fare we needed for the attraction that evening!

It was time for one of the medieval sports events of the year – the crossbow competition – Ludus Balistris. There were a representatives (ballistrieri – crossbowmen/women) from towns across Italy (mostly Tuscany – Lucca, Massa Marittima, Pisa, Pisa Porta San Marco, San Marino and Volterra), all of whom had a squad of people aiming from 70 meters (guess) to try to hit a small target. Hint: they were all bloody marvellous at it. There were two trophies up for grabs: for the team, and the best crossbowman/woman.

I have some photos, but not much of the opening cerermony because I was shooting it live – videos below.

As you can see in the last couple of shots, no bolts are removed from the targets between rounds. This makes it progressively more difficult for the team members featuring later in the competition.

When the entertainment was over, the best of the group competition were selected for the indivual competition, and they had a shoot-off on a single target. You can see that in the last of the photos above.

When all was done, and judged. The winners were announced: Volterra had won the team competition, and one of the Luccan contingent won the individual. Yay us!

To close out the competition, there was some pyrotechnics!

Below are the videos of the opening ceremony.

The next day, we collected another guest from Pisa airport, but before we did that – I didn’t walk! We picked up my brother, who had been with us previously and drove home.

We also did something for lunch we hadn’t done in a long time, and there is no good reason why: we went to Don Beta, just a couple of doors up from the arched entrance to our apartment.

When looking at the menu you’d be forgiven, if you were an Italian purist, for thinking the menu was more than a little touristic. And it kind of is. There is something for everyone here – be it pizza, pasta, meat or fish – the menu is fairly enormous. In addition, they do something most other Italian restaurants don’t do: foreign food! Yes, they do Poke Bowls here. Now, I have no frame of reference with these, so I don’t know how good they are – but I appreciate that they’re giving it a go. I think it’s a progressive move.

Now, with such an extensive menu you’d think the food would be so-so, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s by no means ostentatious, but it’s tasty and honest, and the service is friendly and pretty fast for a Tuscan restaurant. We had pici with ragu and pappardelle with wild boar.

My brother’s all about the chilling, and we would have a busy day tomorrow (more in the next blog!). So, chill we did. Before dinner that evening, we had a short walk.

Food! We went to Pizzeria Ombra della Sera and had some food and a couple of beers apiece. I had been missing my veggies over the previous few days, so I had a Zuppa alla Volterrana, while the other two had pizza. Once done – it was TV and music time back at the apartment and to all a good night!

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you enjoyed it. Please drop me a comment with any queries. I’d love to hear from you!

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