September 4 – Volterra

Under the Etruscan Gate

Under the Etruscan Gate

We visited Volterra, a small hill town encircled by impressive walls that was one of the most important Eturscan cities over 2,000 years ago.  An Eturscan gate built of tufa in the 4th century B.C. is the towns claim to fame and is made all the more interesting in that the Nazi’s planned to blow it up to slow the Allied advance and was saved by the town’s people.  They dug up the stones on the roads and used them to plug the gate, thus convincing the Nazi’s to spare their treasured landmark.  The Duomo, Baptistery, hospital and cemetery surround a square and follow the common arrangement of the Middle Ages with the church facing the baptistery – since you couldn’t go into the church until you were baptized – and the hospital facing the cemetery – I’ll let you figure out this reasoning for yourself.

For those of you following along with our relic fixation, the Duomo had a decent relic of a skull sporting a garland of flowers and surrounded by bones, but no indication of who it was.

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