VOLTERRA- I arrived back in my favorite Tuscan hilltown yesterday afternoon. Volterra is delightful. This is how I describe it in my guidebook:
Volterra is the perfect pick for my favorite Tuscan hilltown, Not too big, not too crowded, and certainly not loaded with tacky tourist shops, it is authentic in every way. Settle in to Volterra, for a beautiful town, surrounded by ancient fortifications, guarded by an impressive fortress, and perched high on a hill overlooking the fertile fields of western Tuscany. Visiting here tends to make one forget about “touring” and more about settling into the laid-back lifestyle of the local folks. It’s hard not to “go local” with a visit to the market, or knocking down an espresso at the neighborhood bar. Engage in conversation with the shopkeepers and “get lost” wandering the narrow cobbled streets. On the town square, enjoy a crisp glass of wine at a café and then hang out for the late afternoon passigiata where everyone gets out to visit. Finally, enjoy a tasty dining experience featuring some of the best restaurants in Tuscany. Soon, the day will be over and you’ll be asking for just one more. Embrace Volterra and experience Italian life!”
I arrived here with 43 friends, some whom I just met this morning at Rome’s airport, and others who I count as my best friends and travel partners. Emerging this many Americans into Volterra’s fragile lifestyle is always a tricky process. On the one hand, I want to give a 36 hour “crash course” compiling all my personal Volterran experiences, on the other, I hope to provide the “venue” for individual experiences, the kind that won me over to this town many years ago.
So, to take the edge off their jet-lag, we jumped right into Volterra’s lifestyle at Pizzaria Ombra Della Serra, immersing ourselves into an Italian-only environment filled with good food, better wine, and an easy transition from American culture to Volterran life.