I overnighted at the home of a friend of a friend of a friend in the agricultural heartland of Tuscany The house is a former French tax collectors outpost from the Napoleonic occupation and has been retrofit extensively by the current owner, Marco, to make it into a modern home. All the rooms shown here were originally a wine cellar under the main house on the first floor and he added the metal staircase to provide an internal connection.
Stunning morning views.
These brick valuted ceilings were really mesmerizing.
The more so when I consider that they were not intended to be aesthetic (they just housed a wine cellar after all).
Note the paw prints of some Napoleonic cat who stepped on the brick!
We drove through the stunning Tuscan countryside (pictures at the end of the post) to the village of Volturra, founded by Etruscans and made famous by Stephanie Meyer* (ack!). The place was a fascinating mix of ages, Etruscan walls, reinforced by the Romans and repaired in the middle ages and now more recently modernized. The ruins of both the Etruscan town center and the Roman theater and temple district have been left un-built up and are clearly visible. The town is also notable for its alabaster and metal work and preserves a charming Medieval center from its fortified hill top.
We entered through the arched gate at the lower end of town – the Romans learned much of their arch building skills (later so well used) from their Etruscan predecessors.
There were several ancient water features around town.
And many steps!
I’ve become a connoisseur of tiny arch ways in crumbling brick walls.
The roman theater is very well preserved.
Even some of the double levelled columnar backdrop remains.
The Romans were masters of crowd control – these stairs provided access to the upper stands without getting in the way of the people in the good seats.
They don’t seem to be protecting this at all, though. An embarrassment of riches in ruins have made them careless.
I love how the differently cut stones are fitted.
These little iron hitching posts are dotted all over the city.
Amazingly wide medieval street.
Reflexive hitching post.
A candle holder or torch bracket.
This is actually the back of the church but it fronts on to the main city square so they put a fancy stone on it.
Classic nave view.
This stripping is merely painted on.
The actual front of the church.
Views out over the city wall.
Lantern holder, I suppose.
An alabaster window. That gives you an impressive age marker – before glass.
This is still used as the city hall meeting room!
Etruscan ruins are now a city park.
Etruscans always chose hill top city locations with good wells …
… and at least seven lower surrounding hills for additional fortification.
I never saw two of these the same.
And, apparently, the metal work tradition continues.
Then, of course, was just the beauty of driving through Tuscany. We stopped several times to take photos and once for a traditional (meaning LENGTHY) sunday lunch at a roadside restaurant.
This Etruscan tomb (now long cleared) is marked only by a small roadside sign.
Its left open on some farmers land.
And, of course, we picked up a friendly neighborhood dog as we walked.
*Volterra is the theoretical home of the Volturi – the ancient rival vampire clan which features in the later Twilight books. The movie version was not filmed there, however, because the medieval streets were a little too historically accurate to get cameras and equipment into.