Our first stop today was Volterra which is an old Etruscan town and Roman city. It is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since at least the end of the 8th century BC. There is evidence of Etruscans due to the city being on the highest hill in the area, the aqueducts under the city and the arches. We were told by the guide that the Etruscans invented the arch. The Romans perfected it, but the Etruscans invented it. The second picture shows an arch over the original gate of the city that is over 2000 years old. They know this is an Etruscan arch because there is no mortar between the stones. There are three heads on the arches. The two on the sides hold the weight of the arch and the one in the middle (called the keystone) holds the arch together.
Volterra is also known for its alabaster. It is mined in the surrounding area and many artisans work with it to turn it into beautiful statues, urns, bowls, etc. We visited an alabaster work shop and some of the models they use are over 2000 years old. We were allowed to watch an artisan turn a block of alabaster into an urn using a lathe and some tools that date back hundreds of years. It was pretty impressive.
In the middle of the city are some Roman ruins – a theatre and a Roman baths (pictures 6 and 7). Right next to these ruins there is a market held every Saturday. Not a farmer’s market (well there was some produce), but an everything else market. There are very few stores in Volterra and it is kind of remote, so every Saturday vendors bring in vans and create sort of a mall with clothing stores, household good stores, etc. The rest of the pictures are Don’s running around the city taking artsy pictures (either that or he really felt that everyone needed to see someone’s laundry).