That Italy is perked up with medieval villages is no news, but not many (beside the Italians) know about Volterra. When exploring the area south of Florence, chances are you will be waiting in line for your turn to enter the fairy-tale villages of Siena and San Gimignano. You have reasons to. Still, heading to the walled town of Volterra, for a morning or afternoon stroll, has its benefits and shopping is one of them.
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Volterra practically has the exclusive of alabaster workmanship, but it is also an extraordinary container of other small artistic activities, that glorify the most traditional sectors of the Italian craftsmanship.
People have lived on Volterra’s hill since Neolithic times, but the city as we know it has Etruscan origins. It is enriched by ruins, architecture and art works from different historical times; fabulaetrusca, with its small carved window inside of a stone wall, can be missed at first sight, but just like with any other treasure, it is worth searching for. Nestled in Via Lungo Le Mura del Mandorlo, hides Etruscan gold (and silver). Hand-made jewels are reproduced from designs found in Etruscan excavations in the area; necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets here are one of a kind.
Overlooking the Roman ruins of Theatre, the atelier exists since 1979 and it is well-know nationally, as well as internationally, thanks to their presence during industry trade shows and exhibitions. Still, it is a whole different experience to be introduced to their special craft right where it started.
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Leather backpacks, briefcases, bags, wallets, belts, suede clutches, coin purse, cardholders, the list goes on and on just like the tradition of working genuine leather in Tuscany. For centuries this enchanting and cultural region, in central Italy, has gained international recognition for producing the highest quality of leather goods. At the entrance of the 100% Toscana store, a short walk toward Porta all’Arco from Palazzo dei Priori, the smell of genuine leather hits like a wave. Choosing the right accessory won’t be easy as the range of colours, sizes and shapes feels countless, but no matter the time spent inside of “leather land”, you will walk out of the store knowing that what you just bought will stay with you for a long time.
La Cantina di Fabio
Via Antonio Gramsci, in Borgo S. Stefano, is one of those streets that are meant to be walked slowly. Popping up on your left and right, left, and right characteristic stores that will be hard to skip. Among the many worth mentioning, we choose La Cantina di Fabio. This wine store has a tradition that dates back 50 years- when young married couple, Fabio and Milena, first opened the business. Ever since, this warm and cosy gastronomy shop has been a landmark for both local restaurants, in search for niche wine labels, as well as educated travellers looking for a special bottle to bring back home. Beside stocking up on your wine collection, the shop, adorned with traditional fiaschette di vino hanging on the front door, is a great place to rest while sipping a glass or two.
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TOSCANAmente – CACIOTECA
With good wine comes good food and Sapori di Toscana has most of the regional flavours. Only a few steps away from La Cantina di Fabio, two cipressini trees frame the entrance of this welcoming deli. On your left, a shelf full of truffle, basil and red pepper oils and, as you browse through the rest of the store, you will be happy to see small cubes of cheese ready to be tasted before choosing among the rosemary, figs and honey, and black pepper goat cheese. Different type of salami hang from a wood stair in the middle of the store, you might be attracted to even just take photos inside of TOSCANAmente but we dare you not feeling your mouth watering.
Part of “Arte in Bottega” association, l’Istrice is a niche art gallery worth discovering when in Volterra. Located in Via Porta all’Arco 23, L’Istrice is a print laboratory that differentiates itself from the mass-scale topographical prints that can be found in most tourist gift stores. Maria Assunta is the talented artist behind the delicate etchings and her passion is clear at first sight. Seeking for this gem, up the Etruscan Arch, means taking the time to see a local artist at work because Maria Assunta will be more than happy to show how she creates her art. It will be hard to walk out of the quaint shop with empty hands but this is good because beside collecting a truly unique piece of art, you will have gained a full local experience.
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