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yuliangpang Volterra - A travel report by yuliang
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Volterra,  Italy - flag Italy
4774 readers

yuliangpang's travel reports

My Most Adventurous Tour, but Deserving Revisiting

  9 votes
Page: 1 2
I had a day trip to San Gimignano and Volterra, but it would be extremely unfair for Volterra if my travel report were only or mainly about San Gimignano, which was more well known and on which i spent most of my time. Volterra does deserve a report.

I got an very useful map when i visited Siena, which clearly indicated the beautiful scenery roads in Tuscany. After i finished my tour in San Gimignano, I realized that i still had some time to travel around and the road leading to a southwest town called Volterra caught my interest immediately, because it was marked as the beautiful sceneray road.

It proved to be a surprising discovery. The further i moved, the more excited at what i found, i could not help parking the car somewhere immediately and taking out my camera. It was just after rain, the sky was extraordinarily blue, the drastic landscape was covered by a piece of green blanket, and huge white clouds made everything unbelievable beautiful. I was completely intoxicatedly!!! The noise from a car brought me back to the reality, two policemen came up to me and said:"it was not allowed to park the car here, you have to leave immediately". But when I restarted the car, i was reminded that I had to refuel quickly, and i used this chance and asked for help, but the reply made me very nervous:"all the gas station are closed on Saturday and there is no gas station nearby, you have to go to Pisa, 68 miles away". I began to worry about finding the gas station as soon as possible, and had no desire to appreciate the beautiful nature at all. I managed to find a gas station at Volterra and succeeded to refuel the car with a full tank! Ok, i could travel around as long as i wanted, had nothing to worry about any more.

Favourite spots:
the landscape
the landscape
The Great English writer D. H. Lawerence had something about Volterra"it gets all the winds and sees the sea--a sort of inland island". As he precisely said, Volterra used to be enclosed by sea and salt used to be the most ancient source of wealth of the town. But nowadays you can only see fortifications which were erected to control and protect the salt-water sources. Natural springs is another great treasure that the God gave to Volterra.

The favorite spot is definitely Piazza dei Priori. Wikipedia says it is one of Italy's most beautiful squares, and i can not agree with that more. Palazzo dei Priori claims to be the oldest town hall in Tuscany, and is really masterpiece of medieval product, which may even have served as the model for Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. I love it at my first sight, because of not only its forbidding magnficence, but also its architechtural beauty. I am more pleased is that a girl called Eva who works at the square's tourist office can speak "ni hao" to me.

What's really great:
Behind Palazzo dei Priori is Piazza San Giovanni, where stand Duomo and Baptistry. The duomo looks quite humble, i like its facade, very simple but beautiful. It harbors a sculpture of the Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino, which is considered as one of the masterpieces of Mannerism. It is quite dark inside and photo is not allowed.

When i got out from the church, it became dark. I knew it was the time to go. therefore i made a quick stroll along the street, via dei Sarti, where most sights were located. I found a palace called Palazzo Viti, some statues put on the ground floor looked very nice, but i did not make further exploration. After that i came to a church called San Michele, but seemed nothing interesting. I turned right from there and came to a Roman theater.

piazza dei Priori
piazza dei Priori
For time constraints, i did not exhaust all the nice places, but I would like to put here for your reference:

1. Museo Guarnacci

It is one of Italy's major archeological museums, displaying Etruscan Funerary urns dating from 4th to 1st centuries BC. It was not quite interesting to me, i had seen the same things at Tarquinia and Rome.

2. Balze Cliffs

As a photographer, it was a pity that i missed this great sight. There are two churches on the way, San Francesco and San Giusto. But do not forget that Balze Cliffs lie at the very end of the road.

3. Fountains

There are two major fountains in the town: Fonti di Docciola and Fonti San Felice.

My Travelling Rough Guide says Villa Nencini is the most attractive hotel in Volterra at the west of the centre of the town.

you know what it is
you know what it is
Night life seems to be very interesting in Volterra. It was almost 5:30 when i finished my quick stroll around the downtown, but it was already dark. It became suddenly crowded, all the people came out. It was a world for old people, they were sitting or standing together, talking to each other, which reminded me of the summer night at my home town, all the neighbors got together for a while before they got to bed.

But i found the most beautiful thing was to enjoy the sunset at Piazza Martiri della Liberta. The sunshine was really like an old man who was more experienced know how to caress those he loved, he shed some soft light on the walls, the dome of the Baptistry as well as the bell tower of the Palazzo dei Priori. The blue sky, the yellow buidings, and the reddish sunshine, what a colorful and peaceful world!! At this moment, i just wanted to sit down somewhere and enjoy the most beautiful moment i could see before the complete darkness.

the most beautiful time-Sunset
the most beautiful time-Sunset
Around the corner between Via Matteotti and Piazza San Michele, i saw a lot of bars, caffe there, but i did not have time to do that.

the gate
the gate
After i was back to my car and began to think of how to get back, i realized problem came. I used up all the cash for gasoline, and i did not have any coin for the toll station. You know why? After I had heard and even experienced so many being stolen stories, i had a habbit of not taking too many cash with me in italy. GPS told me it would be around 4 hours back to Rome, if i choosed to avoid toll station. Four hours, 357 kilometers, the gasoline was enough?If it happened, it would be a disaster for me, because i need to get across the mountain area, there would be very few gas station, even so, i had no money.

I did not know how many twists and turns i had. you can not imagine how scared i was 3 years ago when the first time i began to drive in Italy, I did not dare to listen to music, let alone talking, always 200% concentration, 500% sweating!! but now i manage to do it as crazy as Italians. But that night i could not do whatever i wanted because of the gasoline problems.

Other recommendations:
the roman theater
the roman theater
I felt such a release when i finally came back to Rome. I was on exit 8, 20 minutes i would be definitely at home. At this time, problem came again. I heard a big noise from the car and realized something wrong with the tire. Stopped the car at the emergency area immediately, but what i saw put me almost into tears. One tire had 4 big holes, completely out of service. This was the first time that happened to me, i even did not know how to change the alternative tire. Took out the car manual and read it very carefully, but i did not have any idea of how to solve the problem. The only solution was back to car and move it slowly. Fortunately i found a gas station nearby and there were two people still working, and they became my last straw. They really saved my life when they changed the tire only in 3 minutes.

Recommendation from my own story would be: Do not get there on weekend, if so, make sure you have enough money and full tank of gasoline. Use the highway, not the mountain road.

Published on Tuesday November 4th, 2008

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Thu, Nov 27 2008 - 11:48 AM rating by marianne

interesting read, good photos

Sat, Nov 08 2008 - 01:46 PM rating by rangutan

An interesting adventure out of Rome.

Tue, Nov 04 2008 - 06:31 PM rating by pesu

Very vivid report - and again: a sunset. I love your description.

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