Tuscany and Asciano

landscape2Drive the Tuscany scenic path recommended by Rick Steves. So many forests around Volterra – beautiful. The tall pines lined up on the hills. trees


We tried to stop in Sienna but only saw the skyline – there were NO parking places although we drove for almost an hour. Not even paid places.


hilltownOnward. We’ve left the forests for rolling hills, the Crete Sensi, which means clays of Sienna. Some hills are plowed, some with winter wheat (a guess – light green.)

tree line

We stop in Asciano for lunch. Ate our first pastries of the trip. Almond and more almond. Yum. Wandered a bit, walking off pasta.
Some nice little corners in the town, including a belltower.tower



And no one around but the cat.








So far, it’s threatening but no rain. Someone’s umbrella is ready, though.umbrells


Driving on towards Pienza, we get a little lost – the girl in the GPS sends us in circles. I think she thought we wouldn’t notice.

But everywhere there is beauty…town or countryside.
back of houses

Volterra with Etruscans

etruscans 7etruscans 5Late afternoon visit to the Etruscan museum. They were here before the Romans (and gave Tuscany its name.)

A very Giacometti-like statue with a face that belongs in a Tim Burton movie. Little bronze animals. Sarcophogi and artifacts – mirrors, cooking utensils, jewelry. .jars
Humans evidently have always liked to adorn themselves, unlike the animals who seem content with fur and feathers.vase

Etruscan sarcophogusThe tops of the sarcophagi have stunted little bodies with bold heads. The rarity is an old man and woman; most are single.

There is a display pointing out that the sarcophagi are not portraits – the same face is repeated over and over: a young woman or man. Once you realize it, it’s kinda sad.

The under-panel of the sarcophagi are also interesting – there are themes. The Sirens singing, traveling with a covered wagon (sophisticated), fighting – of course, sunflowers, and chariots which look just like those in Ben Hur.etruscans 3
One shows a siren with a sword and 2 dolphins. The little label says in Italian – I didn’t study for nothing – the images mean the trip is dangerous but the outcome happy. (Although how could we know what the Etruscans thought?) etruscans 2
etruscans 6

I am also taken by a very human painting on a plate of a father talking to a son (or that’s how I interpreted it.)

We hiked down to the Etruscan gate that was saved in WWII by villagers who filled it with cobblestones pulled from the streets so the retreating Germans wouldn’t blow it up.

Finally my hubby wanted to climb the bell tower of the church behind our hotel, which had been a monastery.
della robia
The church was locked but when we knocked, a woman let us in. Climbing is too dangerous but she calls her husband to open the side chapels for us – each has a Della Robbia. Fantastic faces. I’m in love.

A note on the hotel: the biggest bathroom and nicest breakfast in Italy. If you are ever lucky enough to get to Volterra I recommend it – Chiostro Delle Monache.

A final reminder. If you click on a little photo you can see it full size. Be warned, they will take a while to load.

Volterra (without Twilight)

1 mountainsBack to Italy. It was a Sunday. Expected rain, but we get some sun. The little Alps are fluttered with clouds. We pass Cararra of marble fame and sure enough – blocks of marble for miles, starting with huge slabs, dwindling down to finial size, waiting to be sent away.

The real fun starts when we leave the interstate and go though the countryside. It gets more and more rural as we head up to Volterra. Some vineyards, a stand of pale barked trees. Then up and up; didn’t really expect such a hill, but then it’s a HILL town, silly.

We climb into town. A beautiful gate, then STAIRS. More than Vernazza, at least at first. Once in the city, it’s flat.3 stairs
The same beautiful nooks and crannies as elsewhere in Italy, but they feel more authentic because there are so few tourists.

3 alcoveWe wander the lanes and find the Roman Theater. Such a good view, leaning over the Etruscan wall.3 theatre


Have pizza for lunch, good pizza. I manage to ask in Italian if we can have ½ w/o sausage. Also find out that the roasted pepper is pepperoni. So, what’s the sausage?
3 arches
church stripes
Visit the Duomo. Striped marble on the outside, but the stripes inside are faux. Altar carved with the last supper – Judas under the table! Bad boy…the dog is biting him. christ deposition

A 1200 carving of taking Christ down from the cross is moving.

emblems  gate

The main square is enticing, old. Ensignias (not the right word) both inside and out on the walls. More dogs. Sunday and everyone is walking. And then the old gate. I love this town. Next post will be about the Etruscan Museum.