On our recent Florence holiday we took a few day trips around Tuscany, and one of the places I really wanted to visit was Volterra. If the name sounds familiar, you might be Twilight fan! Volterra was a city that played a key point in the second book/movie, not to mention the villains being named after this city. On the other hand, Volterra is a classic Italian city full of cobblestone streets and a lot of history!
Volterra was first established by the Etruscans (i.e.: the people who lived on the Italian Peninsula before the Romans) and was later taken over by the Romans who kept the city in tact as a strategic geographic point for defense. There is a small, but full, Etruscan museum in the city, where you can see plenty of ancient artwork and learn a little about Etruscan culture. They have plenty of burial artwork and a large collection of ancient coins, if you’re into that sort of thing!
The city is a walking city and pretty easy to get around, although there are a few steep hills. If you drive, park in the garage right outside the city and then walk right in! There are also parking lots around the hill you can park and walk up just a little bit. Be aware that residents are allowed to drive in, so keep your eye out for cars, even on streets you may think are for pedestrians only!
Of course what day in Italy would be complete without some gelato? As usual, Carter wanted chocolate! I tried the strawberry cheesecake and it was the best gelato I’ve ever had! For lunch, we found a little coffee stop off the beaten path and had some sandwiches. Much more relaxed (and cheaper) than one of the touristy restaurants on the plaza.
Just outside the city walls you will find the Roman ruins of a theater and baths. For a small fee you can go inside and get up close for some nice pictures! They have some informational signs in English as well. Part of the ruins are reconstructed with modern materials so you can kind of see what the theater would have looked like when it was functional.
If you’re traveling with kids you can take a little break at the playground, which is right next to the Roman ruins. It’s also in the shade so it’s a nice place for a cool time out and a good way to break up your day! You can’t see it in this picture but there are also swings at the playground.
In the visitors center they had plenty of information and also some Twilight themed souvenirs you could buy! They also offer Twilight (New Moon) tours of the city for those really serious fans. As a side note, you should know that the movie scenes taking place in Volterra weren’t actually filmed here but in the nearby town of Montepulciano.
Volterra was a nice day trip in Tuscany! I wouldn’t stay there much longer than that, but it was definitely a nice place to visit for one day (or half day) and there are so great views of the countryside from the city as well. Be sure to wear sunscreen and, as usual, bring a cover up for your shoulders in case you want to go inside the church, or wear a shirt with sleeves.
Have you been to Volterra? What’s your favorite small town in Italy?
Be sure to check out my other Italy Travel posts here!