At the heart of the Etruscan lands, between the alabaster art and salt routes
Handicrafts, manufacturing and environmental art coexist in Volterra in film settings and breath-taking panoramas, for a family holiday to satisfy all tastes!
There is a place in Tuscany that skilfully combines craftsmanship, manufacturing and environmental art in uniquely beautiful scenarios, real film venues: it is Volterra, a very ancient town in the heart of the Val di Cecina, whose many distinctive features will fascinate both young and adults.
It stands majestically from the top of its hill, perched on a road that curve after curve reveals the beauty of the landscape. Upon arrival, the remarkable double walls protecting Volterra are the first evidence of how important the town was in both Etruscan and medieval times. Numerous important historical artefacts are jealously guarded in the Etruscan Museum Guarnacci, which offers a journey through time: starting with the oldest Etruscan settlements, the museum itinerary traces and recounts the development of the village up to the 1st century B.C., passing also through the Hellenistic period that gave the world myths and legends. Among the most famous exhibits is the “Ombra della Sera” ('Evening Shadow'), a small sculpture considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Etruscan craft.
White has been what made the fortune of Volterra over the centuries: not just any white, but the pure white of two minerals that respectively enabled the development of handcrafts and manufacturing.
Alabaster, already successfully worked in Etruscan times, is the symbol of the manual creativity of the place, thanks to its malleability that can be used to satisfy the imagination in creating details and decorations. The few workshops that still survive in the historic centre are true custodians of a centuries-old tradition, and are undoubtedly worth a visit. Their history is told by the Alabaster Ecomuseum, a 'widespread' museum in three municipalities, one of which is obviously Volterra.
Salt is the other key element in the historical-industrial development of the town, and what a salt! In Volterra, and in particular in the village that was named, quite descriptively, Saline di Volterra, the purest salt in Italy is produced! The rock-salt deposits in which the subsoil is rich were for a long time the subject of dispute until the industrial exploitation was decided in the 18th century, during the Grand Duchy era. Visiting the plant is an amazing experience: children, but also adults, will be impressed by the majestic 'salt waterfall' that is the highlight of the tour and creates an almost magical, surreal effect. Please note, the Saline factory only opens at specific times of the year, so it is necessary to enquire before setting off!
For a true industrial itinerary, moreover, a stop at Larderello to discover the geothermal plants cannot be missed, nor a visit to Colle Val d'Elsa to retrace the traces of industrial archaeology.
However, Volterra also has an extraordinarily artistic and environmental soul, which created (thanks to the hand of the artist Mauro Staccioli, a native of Volterra) a series of sculptures scattered throughout the countryside that stretches placidly around the town. Circles, ellipses, vertical forms rising towards the sky... there are numerous works left behind by Staccioli, each of which tells about Volterra and its relationship with its territory, and all of which are strictly to be found, admired and where possible, of course, taken for a beautiful family photo!
Guarnacci Etruscan Museum
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