Touring in Tuscany revisiting some of the places I first saw with the GLME Summercamp of 2004 based in Pomerance. This time we’re staying in Volterra, the town is not at the top of the tourist lists but it’s a walled hilltop town with an Etruscan archaeological site, a Roman theatre plus fantastic views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
Perennially popular with bikers, one approach to Volterra is a series of zigzags, another is a ridge road with views either side, the third is like an ideal Sussex or Shropshire road winding through farmland and small woods with the occasional blind bend to keep you really sharp.
We saw a medieval marksmanship competition in the main square by La Compagnia Balestrieri Città di Volterra; A balestra (medieval crossbow) would have been the sniper’s choice in the wars of the 1300s. I wonder what the Risk Assessment looks like for that: reproduction medieval weapons, high velocity bolts within stone walls with public...
The highest point in the Volterra is the Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea), now a state prison: individual officers are occasionally seen in town wearing an imposing uniform with impressive boots.
The 2004 GLME summercamp was based nearby in Pomerance. Down the road is Lardarello power plant, generating electricity from geothermal activity underground. Current production is said to be 4,800 GWh per year. In comparison, Rampion wind turbine farm offshore of Brighton may eventually produce 1,366 GWh per year. The road onwards to Massa Marittima is another high attention ride, twisting through the Marrema highlands where the wild boars roam amidst porcini mushrooms with truffles underfoot. Zigzags, long wide corners but many blind - and a few long straight runs. Massa Marittima is a good break, less popular so more enjoyable than the more major sights. We went onwards to explore Talamone and the Parco Naturale della Maremma but there are several other quiet ports to enjoy on the Etruscan coast.
Another route out of Volterra took us past the “Medieval Manhattan” town of San Gimignano, the merchants of the medieval era jousting for credibility with the height of their towers. Another stop on the Via Francigena pilgrimage route is Monteriggioni: my photo postcard shows a group of us visiting in 2004. The parking is still unshaded from the fierce sunshine but now it is chargeable...
Several glorious birdsong Dawn Choruses and even some owls and bats overnight in the woodland around the albergo where we have been staying.