Tag: museum

A Saturday to Forget, a Sunday to Help Remember (03+04/09/2023)

A Saturday to Forget, a Sunday to Help Remember (03+04/09/2023)

Saturday, September 3rd

This weekend was a weird one and no mistake. I genuinely have next to no memory of what we did that day. I see the photos, but they are something of an abstract collection. I know we stayed in Volterra and had something to eat. That is the extent of my memory of that Saturday.

Here are some photos. Make of them what you will.

Sunday, September 4th

Ok, this day was more like it!

I got up and walked to the entrance of the abandoned psychiatric hospital. I didn’t take many photos because, by golly, I filmed the walk instead. It was actually shorter than I thought it would be.

So that was cool, but what would be cooler is if I finally somehow make it inside the grounds. The stairs pictured above I’m pretty sure lead there, but what isn’t pictured is a collapsed fence which might be only slightly tricky to climb over on the way up, but would be a total cow on the way back.

It is possible to arrange a tour at least to the inner grounds, but I simply haven’t done so yet. Some day, I swear!

Anyway, as handy as it was getting there, I would have to climb back…

After I’d tidied myself up and hung around ’til lunch time we went to La Sosta del Priore – they have a new website, with a shopping area! Congratulations, Ilenia!

You can’t go wrong here – the burger was so yum. Hard to imagine that soy mayonnaise would taste so good!

The Etruscan museum (aka the Guarnacci Museum) is one of the oldest museums in Europe, and also one of the most important Etruscan museums. It had been renovated recently, and I wanted to return to it to show my support. It’s lovelier than ever now, and besides having Etruscan artefacts, it also houses pre-historic and Roman era goodies.

There are still rather a lot of Etruscan sarcophagi/funerary urns, but it’s interesting to see how they progressed from actual urns, to mini-sarcophagi, and became more and more intricately carved.

I have been before, so I won’t expand any further on it, except to say that it is a must-visit and is one of the attractions covered by the Volterra visitors card. You can pick this card up at either of the tourist information offices in Piazza dei Priori. It allows you to visit a bundle of places at a discounted rate.

However, they did have a couple of new things: items from the new dig site of the Roman Amphitheatre and the a kick-ass attic room, which affords you some fab views from above much of the city.

But we didn’t stop there for the day, oh no!

The Astiludio is a medieval-style, flag waving/juggling competition held between cities. Volterra’s team are actually pretty dang good at it. We managed to grab some seats at a temporary set of bleachers and watch the opening ceremony as the teams marched into the square. There were a senior and junior categories. I don’t think Volterra won either category this time around, although it looked to us that the senior squad were the best on offer that day. Sure what do we know?

As you will see in the live-streamed videos below, the Volterran’s are really into it and are proud of their squad.

You’ll also see a special appearance by Geralt of Rivia. Hehe.

And there are a smattering of pics too.

Afterwards, we went for a little stroll and enjoyed aperitivi at Osteria dei Fornelli, the prime spot for enjoying the sunset in Volterra.

Of course, we had food there too, with me occasionally running out to grab some snaps of the slowly-descending sun.

Afterwards, we strolled through the night to our beds.

I hope you enjoyed the read, and watch! Let me know what you think!

Volterra’s Art Museum

Volterra’s Art Museum

We crashed after bringing our guest to the airport, and then lazed about the apartment, screenwatching.  We headed out to Il Pozzo degli Etruschi for some lunch.  We were sat down the back, which we’d never been before, and so saw that they had a covered Etruscan well!

I had pici with lamb sauce, and Niamh had a boar chop with baked rosemary potatoes, with a side of grilled veggies.

A small thunderstorm forced us back to the apartment, where I stayed for a little sleep.  I got up around 17:00 and headed out to the town’s pinacoteca (art gallery).  It’s €8 for an adult to visit and allows entrance to the art museum and the neighbouring alabaster museum, which I visited first.  I think this museum is also covered by the Volterra Card, which you can buy for €16, which allowed entrance to many of the main attractions over a 3 day period.

As I said in one of my introductory posts, Volterra is the European centre for alabaster art, and has been for millenia, on and off.  The Etruscans carved it, which you can see in their funerary urns.  The museum here, has small mixture over a few floors of new and old pieces, spanning the near 3,000 years alabaster has been worked here.

At the top, is a reconstruction of a medieval alabaster workshop, along with a couple of nice views of the town below – including a little peek at the Roman ruins.

You can access the art gallery from the mezzanine below the top floor of the alabaster museum.  This takes you to the floor which houses the museum’s masterpiece: Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition from the Cross.


The red-haired, lamenting figure in the bottom right is often though to be the painter himself (‘Rosso’ being a nickname).  It’s interesting, though, that there is evidence that Judas Iscariot also had red hair, so the figure acts as a handy double.  It’s a pre-Renaissance piece, which is commonly believed to be one of the best early examples of Mannerism, which led to adoption of the style in Renaissance works. 

Most of the artworks on display are pre-Renaissance, ranging from mid 1200’s to late 1400’s, and thematically are religious in nature – inevitably, really – they were the ones with the money to commission the pieces.

There are also a couple some classic Renaissance works.

And this fresco by Daniele da Volterra (Daniele Ricciarelle), which was painted for the Medici family in the mid 1500’s.  The family crest is one of the main eye-catcher’s of the scene!


You can also make out the coat-of-arms of Volterra on the left-hand side – the shield-mounted dragon.

There is also another room with works by a collection of Volterran artists, with works ranging from Renaissance to mid-1700’s.

I think it’s a worthwhile visit, if you have a passing interest in historical art, whether you like the theme or not.

On the way home, I stopped off in La Sosta del Priore and grabbed a couple of sausage and onion sambos for us.  We stayed in and screenwatched for the rest of the evening.  Talk about settling in!  I went to bed early, as I knew I wanted to get this blog written before we (hopefully) head to Florence in the morning.  We have two routes open to us: a slightly quicker route, two-thirds of which is on dual-carriageway, or a route through some wonderful countryside.  Hmmmmm…

Hopefully, we’ll park successfully, learn how to use the tram and tell you folks all about it tomorrow.

Goodbye dosh, plus The Museum of Sacred Art

Goodbye dosh, plus The Museum of Sacred Art

The furniture store in Navacchio still hadn’t been in touch, so we decided to check out the artist’s store and afterwards head into the less interesting looking part of Colle di Val d’Elsa to purchase a single chair.

The artist is a lady, who is wildly effusive about her work, and from looking at her work on a current piece, operates solely from memory or imagination, with no recourse to reference images.  Quite a talent to have.  Her work is relatively inexpensive, but is nonetheless pretty and colourful.  We ended up choosing a wide piece, without a frame, of a bucolic scene with lavendar and poppies, with a farmhouse and cypress in the background, all overseen by magnificently painted clouds in a cerulean sky. Lovely.  

She boggled when we bought it and was extremely grateful – we’d only been in her store maybe 15 minutes.  I’ll slap up a photo when we hang it.  We have to wait ’til the end of the first week until the first piece we bought is framed.  I’ll show you this too when it’s ready and in-place.

Then onwards to Colle.  You might recall that this is our second attempt to visit this furniture store – they had been away on holidays the last time we called out.  We arrived and the store was open.  It was also a great deal warmer than Volterra at about 33 celsius.  We went inside, where it was nicely air-conditioned.  I think we might have been in the place less than 10 minutes when we had the chair selected.  I think it was her first day back after having nearly a month off, so she probably couldn’t believe her luck!  We managed to fit it in the car (the advantages of having a hatchback), and drove home.  I took snaps on the way back.

Once home, we carried the chair between us up to our apartment.  In hindsight, we should have driven into town and deposited the chair much nearer the apartment, but oh well – lesson learned.  The tendons in my arms were sore afterwards, leading to comic instances of shakey-hands when I tried to eat lunch.  Here’s the chair!


We went to Da Beppino for lunch, where I ordered the pici with lamb sauce, and Niamh sliced grilled beef with a side of greens.  Niamh got what she ordered.  I didn’t.  But I’m kind of glad I didn’t.  Instead I got pici with a sauce of Chianina beef and it was excellent, and proof why I prefer a stock-based ragù to a tomato one.


That afternoon, I had a little siesta, and then got up to go to the Museum of Sacred Art.  Whether you’re a believer or not, I think it’s an essential visit, just to see the progression of humankind’s skill in painting and sculpture.  I  got there around 17:50 and paid the €5 to get in.  They have a couple of touch-screen sections in Italian and English, explaining a little about their masterwork pieces.

I had a good nose around, and with some of the works, the sculptures in particular, it was hard to believe that many of them were about a half-millenium old.  One in particular, of Pope Linus (the second Pope, who was born in Volterra, and succeeded St. Peter in the role).  The bust is the one in the photos below with the robes in blue lacquer.

I was almost done, when a lady approached saying that they were closing the Museum – but they could give me a few minutes to finish-up.  The closing time was 18:00, and they only gave me the bum’s-rush at 18:25.  So a 30 minute visit should be enough – unless you are a student or historian of art.  I grabbed a few evening shots of Volterra on the way home, and snuck into L’Incontro for a cone of chocolate and coffee gelati (practically the only way you can get me to ingest coffee).

What could be more Italian than spaghetti (or bucatini) and meatballs?  Quite a lot, as it happens, as that dish is an American concoction, and can only be found in Italy in the hokiest of tourist restaurants.  Meh, we were going to have it anyway!  On our last trip to Ikea, we grabbed some frozen meatballs on the way out.  Niamh cooked these up in a tomato sauce with bucatini for dinner.  Rawr!  Those meatballs are worth a purchase, should you happen to find youself in an Ikea.


My right Achilles is giving out to me a little – most likely from all the hill-climbing – so I’m resting it this morning – therefore, no walk.  My brother is a keen hiker, so I need it to be ok for whatever he might put us through when he visits on Sunday.

Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!