A Day in Volterra

A quintessential hill town

During our vacation in Italy, one of our driving goals is to get some time to relax and not hurry from location to location in an effort to get as much viewed as possible.  Rather, spending some quality time in a smaller number of locations, which gives us a better feel for what these places are really like (and were like).  As we’re focusing on hill towns in Tuscany, that means we have to make some decisions about which ones we want to visit; one of these choices was between San Gimignano and Volterra, both of which are well known towns.


Volterra became our first choice, as it is eminently walkable in relaxed fashion and has a great variety of points of interest.  We parked in the free lot (#3), which does require a considerable number of steps to be ascended in order to get into town.  In town, there are lots of quaint little streets, each with their own character and occasional vehicular traffic (locals only!).

The Basilica on the main square is beautiful in its construction of alternating rows of black and white marble, and impressive to see form the inside.  It’s located next to the town hall, which is a rather lively piazza with lots of places to have an espresso or shop for alabaster ware.

After a delicious meal at Torre del Porcellino (I enjoyed my wild boar!), we sauntered over to visit the Etruscan excavation, which is an active archaeological site.  Pay to enter and you also will get access to the Roman amphitheater at the other side of town.  The excavation is of a site with several temples and surrounding houses, and also includes a descent (8 m) into a cistern from Roman times.

The Roman amphitheater is also very impressive, as it leans back against the old town walls and well worth the visit.

The atmosphere in Volterra was very relaxed and provided lots of great shopping for leather and alabaster carvings.  The gelato at Isola del Gusto was fantastic!

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

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