I recently spent a day in Volterra, province of Pisa. Volterra is one of the most important historical Tuscan town, first great Etruscan ‘metropolis’, or as the ancient said ‘lucumonia’,then Roman settlement. The town known medieval, Medicean and Grand-ducal memorable events, despite to its decentralized location.Approaching Volterra the first thing to be noticed is its profile crowned by the imposing fortress, that rises at dominion of the underlying territory. This view make us understand how great was the strategicalimportance of the city. The hill on which it rises, about 555 meters high, is the higher of this area, unapproachable from every side without being sighted with large advance.
Fans of American author Stephanie Meyer know it as the setting for the second book in the Twilight series, New Moon. But Volterra has another claim to fame that is older than vampire tales. Since ancient times, Volterra has been known as the city of alabaster. The Etruscans mined alabaster in the nearby hills and considered it the stone of the dead. The mineral was used for elaborate funerary urns and caskets that housed the ashes of the departed, prized for its durability, beautiful coloration, natural veining and translucence. When the Romans ascended, alabaster fell out of favor and marble became the preferred sculpting material. It’s worthwhile a visit to the museum’s Etruscan collection. In the city center, there are many alabaster shops selling everything from wine stoppers to chandeliers, bowls to jewelry. Several shops have their workshops close by so you can see the craftsmanship, tools and carving process up close. Walking into the alabaster studio at Alab’Arte is like stepping back into time. Artist-owners Roberto Chiti and Giorgio Finazzo have been partners for 42 years, first meeting as students in art school. The workshop of Gloria Giannelli, located on the ground floor of Palazzo Tortoli, is next door to the Etruscan Museum. Giannelli began working in alabaster in 1980 and was the first woman in Volterra to enter the field. Her particular style of craftsmanship owes much to the traditional arts of embroidery and lace. She even markets her art as “lace-like creations in alabaster.” I then stopped in a nearby atelier where Vanna Spagnolo paints beautiful piece of art where also the frame is painted continuing the concept on the canvas and contributing to create beautiful effects. The following pictures are just a sample. Those ones taken from the drone help to understand the importance of the location that makes Volterra a stronghold of high value