Beyond teaching us the history of early civilisations, and developing an appreciation for the natural riches of the region and the culture of foreign lands, what do cities like Volterra bring to our modern lives?
The feeling overpowers me each time I suddenly become aware of how many years have passed since the cobbles I am walking on were first laid. Hundreds…. dare I say … thousands???
There is no greater force to literally knock the wind out of me and have me search for the nearest seat, so I that I can will my thoughts to slow down enough for my mind to visualise the residents of this city from different centuries, going about their daily lives, raising their children, conducting business, doing housework. Same basic activities that people have done, century after century.
Volterra is built high on a hill top of Tuscany, its walls continuing to protect its inhabitants, as they have been for over 2500 years. Within, one can walk through time, touching stones and ruins from 400 years before Christ was born, and turn around and marvel at structures built during the medieval era, while googling the history of the Etruscans, or instagramming a selfie in front of a larger arched porta leading into the city. The beauty of the unique Italian architecture is evident in its piazzas and churches and you have to be grateful to its citizens who wisely convinced the German soldiers not to blow it up during WWII, by gathering stones to fill in the arched doorways of the city.
Outside the city walls are fairly well preserved ruins of an ancient amphithéâtre, built by Romans when they took over the town. Romans also brought water to the city, and built a large catch basin to supply residents more conveniently – You have to give it to them – Romans did like their commodities and amenities.
Today, we have a chance to sit at one of many lovely terraces, and sip a glass of local wine, watching tourists pop in and out of the shops along the narrow streets. Volterra is well known for its Alabaster and aside from the fantastic photos one can take throughout the day, Alabaster carvings are a nice souvenir.
We are speechless and very satisfied with our visit as we leave Volterra, walking back to the car. It is so impressive. “Did you know Volterra was the inspiration and the filming set for one of the Twilight Saga?” my daughter informs me. I did not know that it was the set of The New Moon, nor did I know about the vampire series.
What I do know, is that humans exist and live their day much like they have been for thousands of years. Volterra has reminded me that our lives are no different then the Etruscan traders, Roman tourists, Medieval nobles and even the Italian elders, sitting in the shade, some leaning on their cane, watching tourists leave after a day of visit. That is the perspective I speak of.
All those days I spent busy getting from task to task, sometimes frustrated, or concerned about life events. None of it was any different than the life and concerns of all the men and women who have lived before me. Volterra reminded me that in all cases, this too shall pass.