Today was a full day! It was a drizzly grey morning and we met up with our local guide Annie for a walking tour of Volterra. Annie is an American who married a Volterran, and it was quite fascinating to hear how tight knit this community is. As incredible as her stories of this pre-Roman civilization were, I was more intrigued and touched by the stories of how this villiage protected itself during WWII. The Porta all'Arco is the oldest standing Etruscan gate, dating back to 400 B.C. Annie shared with us how, during WWII, the villagers created an assembly line...pulling up the cobblestones and passing them down to the arch, one by one, creating a barrier to keep enemy troops out. Amazingly, it worked. It was fascinating to hear the stories of the Etruscans who built this arch so long ago, and the modern Volterrans who risked their lives to protect it and their village.
Next stop was Alab'Arte, an Alabaster workshop. The area is rich in this natural mineral. To see this artisan take a block of alabaster and turn it effortlessly into a beautiful translucent bowl was nothing short of amazing.
Porta all'Arco - Oldest Etruscan gate - Circa 400 B.C.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon lunching,
exploring the Etruscan Museum, climbing the bell tower and stopping for an aperitivo while we worked up an appetite for a cellar wine tasting and dinner!
INTERNATIONAL PHONE PLANS
Most major phone companies offer reasonable international travel plans that you can add just for the duration of your travel abroad. *
Here are some tips for managing phone usage:
Keep your phone in airplane mode to prevent it from sucking up data when not in use.
Keep your wi-fi on to take advantage of the many public wi-fi areas.
Download an off-line map app (We used City Maps2go).
Use wi-fi to FaceTime/Skype with family members back home.
Use your phone company's app to keep track of data usage.
Using these tips, we had plenty of data to turn on our phones occasionally to make a call or look up a map real-time.
*Check with your local carrier for details and options.
Stopping for an Aperitivo and a quick call home!
This evening we joined Annie's husband Francesco for a Tuscan cellar wine tasting with our wonderful tour mates. Tony & I lived near Napa for several years where we went from regularly drinking Two Buck Chuck to becoming slight wine snobs. Getting to taste these rich Tuscan wines was a real treat! I even surprised myself by being an "A" student whenever Francesco would ask us what notes we tasted in the wine. Glad I learned something at all those Napa wine tastings!
Our trusty leader Sarah had us play the famous Rick Steves name game after the tasting. A bit unfair after an evening of wine!
Actually, perhaps that's what made it so much fun!
We asked Francesco for a dinner suggestion and he pointed us in the direction of Ristorante Enoteca del Duca. We teamed up with tour mates Bill & Becky and had another delicious and lovely dinner. Bill & I bonded over our love of photography and we all walked back to the hotel together through the quiet ancient streets of Volterra.
Another wonderful day! I never want to leave.
Day 4 Photo Highlights
Off to Lucca & the Cinque Terre!