Day 3 – Continued…. from busy bustling streets of Rome to the quiet charming medieval town of Volterra. 

Recalling that drive to Volterra, many honorable mentions go to the tour bus drivers – these buses were both comfortable and large… large to the point that we cannot comprehend how they were able to maneuver through the many cities, mountainsides, and county villages always getting us safely to our destinations – hats off to the drivers of our tour!

Now back to Volterra —  We had read previous tour reviews that the town of Volterra was many reviewers’ “highlight” of the tour, especially after the crowds of Rome. It was a “highlight” for us also – not due to the crowds of Rome, but due to just the beauty and rich history Volterra offered. Our hotel was a an old nunnery. Our room name was our daughter’s name spelled slightly different, “Elisabeth” vs “Elizabeth.” That was just a little sign that we were going to love our time in this village. On our first night in Volterra we enjoyed our group meal sharing stories of the last few days.

Day 4 – The next morning our Guide Cristina once again paired with a local guide as we walked through the streets of Volterra learning about what shaped this Etruscan village. There were many discovery moments along the walking tour, but one that sticks with us was that of a Roman bath that had been covered with trash and discarded for centuries to only be rediscovered in the last 20 years and is now being carefully unearthed. The local guide told the story of villagers taking stones and rocks from the street to barricade the arch way into the city preventing invasion of the a city. The guide mentioned her husband’s grandmother had participated with building that barricade as a very young child. Near the end of the walking tour we passed an old woman that our guide exchange pleasantries with and, to our surprise, it was that very grandmother. Such a heartwarming ending to our walking tour. We visited an Alabaster workshop and multiple museums. Afterwards we sat at a small restaurant just soaking up everything we learned.  The restaurant tables were closely situated to one another to encourage friendship and engagement. Sitting next to us  a young newlywed couple who had drove from Amsterdam. We had a wonderful time spending the rest of the afternoon talking with them. One more night of rest in this sleepy town..

Day 5 – Leaving Volterra on our way to Cinque Terra/Monterosso – everyday has been great – cannot stress enough that leaving the details to the tour company is proving to be outstanding. The “not worrying about all things trip” allowed us to enjoy every moment of our Heart of Italy tour.

Today as we look forward to going to Monterosso, and some beach/free time, we made an unexpected, but memorable stop, courtesy of our tour guide Cristina. Dennis and I are both United States Air Force retired members. Cristina had arranged to stop at the Florance American Cemetery for our tour group to pay homage to the over 5,800 American service members who gave everything of which 1,400 are still missing. A newly appointed Superintendent, (her first day and she did a wonderful job!), provided some background on the cemetery and the ongoing efforts to identify missing service members. We were each provided a single rose and given time to reflect and lay our rose on a headstone of our choice. 

When we left, the group was somewhat somber but thankful to have stopped at an American cemetery to honor those who did not return home and gave all for our freedom and those of the Italian people.

Volterra, an Etruscan gem perched on Tuscany’s rolling hills, captivates with its timeless charm. Encircled by medieval walls, the town unfolds a tapestry of cobbled streets, ancient towers, and well-preserved Roman relics. The imposing Porta all’Arco gate serves as a gateway to its historical richness. The 12th-century cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori showcase architectural splendor. Volterra’s alabaster craftsmanship, a tradition dating back centuries, adds an artistic touch to its identity. Nestled amid a landscape of vineyards and olive groves, the town offers panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside. Volterra stands as a haven where history, culture, and natural beauty converge.