Looking over Volterra

Beautiful vistas and rich history

Volterra is a walled mountaintop town in the Tuscany region of Italy of which its history dates to before the 7th century BC and has substantial structures from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods.

Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri or Vlathri and to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy. The town was a Bronze Age settlement of the Villanovan culture, and an important Etruscan center (Velàthre, Velathri or Felathri in Etruscan, Volaterrae in Latin language), one of the “twelve cities” of the Etruscan League.

Looking over Volterra

The site is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since at least the end of the 8th century BC. It became a municipium allied to Rome at the end of the 3rd century BC. The city was a bishop’s residence in the 5th century, and its episcopal power was affirmed during the 12th century. With the decline of the episcopate, Volterra became a place of interest of the Florentines, whose forces conquered Volterra. Florentine rule was not always popular, and opposition occasionally broke into rebellion. These rebellions were put down by Florence.

When the Florentine Republic fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and later followed the history of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

In recent history, Volterra was the residence of the Volturi, a coven of rich, regal, powerful ancient vampires, who essentially act as the rulers of the world’s vampire population; of course, this was fiction, as part of Stephwnie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Technical Details

This image series was captured with my Fujifilm X-T1 using a Fujifilm XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 LM OIS WR lens.  Exposure settings for the series of images were at 1/350-1/1500 second, f/9 at 1000 ISO.  They were processed using Photomatix Pro.

Under a Tuscan Sun

Perfect weather and sights!

One of the things that we always expect to happen during our vacations is that the weather is perfect!  So far, Tuscany has delivered just that with gorgeous, sunny days that are not too hot and nights that are cool enough for comfortable sleeping.  With this weather, every road trip has been a pleasure and today’s was no exception, as we headed into the direction of Montepulciano.

Driving through the landscape, it is just a joy to behold all the gently rolling valleys and cross the hills that separate them.  The winding roads give a clear indication why Italians would love their supercars, as these roads are made for powerful, highly maneuverable vehicles.

Our first stop was in the small town of Pienza, which is simply gorgeous.  Its small, highly walkable center is filled with little restaurants, such as the one in an alley where we ate a  fantastic meal in an atmosphere where the owner enjoyed our presence.

Little streets and a beautiful church (go check the labyrinth) really show why Pienza is a world heritage site.  Among towns, this is a relatively new settlement, as the entire town was rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance city by Pope Pius II and named after him.

Montepulciano is the larger of the two towns that we visited today.  Sitting on a limestone ridge, this town is a hill climb in just about every direction, as streets are steep each and every way.  The medieval fortress is very much in evidence in many sections, as the heavy walls dominate any time one gets closer to the edge of town.  Wine merchants are everywhere and many indicate that they ship acorss the globe.

On our return trip, I stopped to get some landscape shots, such as the last image in the series; plenty of work to do in editing images when I get home, as these landscapes are just beautiful to see.

Reflecting Overhead

As promised, here is at least a second entry in this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Reflecting, which is one of my favorite things to bring into a photograph.

In this image, there is a bit of a different reflection, as it connects the leaves to bring them back into touch with the tree, from which they departed during their autumnal journey…

Thoughts of a Time Passed
Thoughts of a Time Passed

These leaves are looking to rejoin their original trees, a fight against the indomitable force of gravity, which they cannot win.

Reflections of Note

Sky’s reflections!

Well, am I pleased that this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge happens to be on the theme of Reflecting?  Yes, I am!!

The only problem that I have with this topic is to decide which ones of my images to select, as I have a fair amount of photographs that use a reflection.  So I may do a number of posts, upon which we can reflect.

The first contribution is one of my favorite HDR images…

Water and Sky

This image came about a number of years back, when I was photographing an agility event in Skowhegan, Maine.  As we were done around mid-afternoon, and I had noticed that there were some nice skies, this spot came to mind for photographing.  It is the hydroelectric facility in the middle of the town, where the Kennebec river flows through it.



A Look Back – Winter

Cold, yet beautiful

I realize that not many of us look forward to the Winter season, as we tend to prefer the nice warm weather of late Spring, Summer and early Autumn.  You may call me crazy, but I do like Winter for its stark beauty and its ability to present me with scenes of serenity.

There have been numerous explorations filled with trudging through deep snow to chance upon lovely moments, such as these…

Do you enjoy Winter or prefer to stay in front of a warm fireplace?

None Shall Pass!

Wizard’s rule

Great wizards have been known to block passage to mysterious, fabled lands, often demanding answers to fiendishly difficult riddles of the hapless travelers who encounter them.  Most of us are cautious to not approach these situations, as we can never be sure what exactly might befall us, if we fail to answer with aplomb and conviction.  As a result, we don’t get to see much of these lands, of which we hear only in the tales told by intrepid travelers.

For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I found this image in my camera…

Fabled Lands through the Lens of Time

I remember this landscape from one of my most vivid dreams only, and am certain that I have never been there in person.  This far away desert stretches across the miles, challenging any traveler, who might think of crossing it.  It is rumored that ancient riches are in a city deep within this arid land, but none have ever made it to more hospitable lands, as passage to the city is protected by several grand wizards, who do not suffer fools…

To this day, it is still a mystery how this image appeared on my camera; maybe it will inspire me to find this land.

Inspired by the WordPress Daily Post theme of None.

Wanderlust – Harvard Forest

Random acts of beauty

As I feel a bit inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge’s theme of Wanderlust, I figure that I’ll share some of my travel images over the next couple of days.

In this 2nd episode, I feel compelled to talk about one of the activities that I allow to occur from time to time: wandering!  When I talk about wandering, I refer to that random turn in a direction that I have never explored before or the urge to ignore the sign that states that the pavement ends!

This is what gets me off the beaten path and has resulted in some serendipitous discoveries, such as this one…

Harvard Research Forest


Ignoring posted signs about the pavement is exactly what got me here, as at the end of the pavement there was a dirt track that I followed taking somewhat random turns in directions that looked interesting.

The Harvard Research Forest is a 3000 acre site near the town of Petersham in Massachusetts, and is used by the university for ecological research.  As you can tell from this image, there are some pristine ponds that are a delight to behold.

So, the next time you go wandering, take that turn you have not explored before and ignore that occasional sign; you never know where it might lead…