If you're used to wash cloths, bring them
Our villa in Volterra included bath towels and hand towels, but not what we Americans call "wash cloths" (a small towel used to wash one's face). Luckily, my friend had brought a supply which could be left behind in each city, and I brought Olay's excellent cleansing tissues because that's what I use back in Rhode Island. But if you're younger than we are and dislike using a corner of your bath towel to wash your face, you might think about packing something you wouldn't mind discarding after your visit.
Market Day in Volterra
It turned out that -- at least during the summer -- Saturday was Market Day in Volterra. A large stretch of SR68, more or less abutting the Roman Theater, is blocked off. This includes two large parking areas. The market itself seems to be equally divided between various kinds of household goods, clothing, toys, and so forth, and foodstuffs (including both meats and seafood) and flowers. Most of the vendors put up large tent-like structures, open to the street, or have trucks with drop-down side panels.
It will probably make me sound like a western elitist, but I found the non-food items fairly prosaic. Much of the clothing on display was of poor quality but not particularly inexpensive, although the corkscrew we purchased (for ten euros!) was perfectly serviceable. I had a hard time imagining that people purchased their underwear in front of the madding crowds, but then I saw some young girls simply strapping themselves into brassieres over their clothing, apparently satisfied with the approximate fit.
One thing completely astonished me: the market had disappeared, completely, by 1:30 in the afternoon. There wasn't a stray scrap of leftover produce nor a residual tent or truck. And our little car, which had been left securely between two others on what seemed to be a legal spot, now sported a ticket in its solitary splendor!
There were some that were unique however and, of those, this is the piece de resistance. It's featured on postcards and brochures, though this is my own work, and shows and old and loving couple in recline.
This is a high point of Etruscan art.
The museum is open daily except for Christmas and New Years day.
Visit the Porta all'Arco
Nearly every guide and website on Volterra features a photograph of this famous Etruscan gate, built in the 4th century BC. The three heads, or what's left of them, are of Zeus and his sons (although on one site, they were named as Juno, and Minerva, which sure don't sound like sons to me!), and they were added about three hundred years later.
Don't miss the little plaque which recounts the story that on June 30, 1944, Volterrans rallied to convince the retreating Germans not to blow up this ancient gateway -- by completely filling it with the large stones paving the road which leads from it into the central part of the walled city. It must have been quite an effort because, as the photo shows, this is one BIG gate.
The Cathedral has got a latin cross shape with three naves with columns dressed of plaster simulating pink granite. The walls are painted to white and black lines. The ceiling is to chests with busts of saints work made by Francesco Capriani. Inside the cathedral you can see some wonderful works: on the right transept you can see the Cappella Serguidi with plasters made by Ricciarelli; on the second chapel on the right of the main altar you can see the Deposition (1228); in the first chapel there is the Arca di S.Ottaviano (St.Ottaviano's arch) made by Raffaele Cioli in 1522.