Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stepping Through Volterra

On Monday, we had breakfast at a small Internet cafe in Volterra, the site of our last post. While there, we spent about five hours exploring the quaint hill town. We visited the Etruscan Museum and really enjoyed seeing Alabaster art work throughout the city. We visited the Alab 'Arte workshop and watched a master artist at work. Of course, we tossed in a couple of churches, which I believe is mandatory in any city or town that is visited in Italy. Here's our day in photos (with color commentary by Howard in italics): We start with Howard selecting a few pieces of alabaster from a doorside bin (.50 Euros each):

Etruscan entry arch (Etruscan stuff is REALLY old):

View from Volterra:

Etruscan Museum:

This was the toilet in the Etruscan Museum - men's and women's!:

Alab 'Arte master artist at work:

I am always fascinated by artists at work and in their medium. Alabaster is a stone with a hardness between plaster and granite. It is easier to work than granite and watching the sculptor grind and chisel this wing was beautiful. In the picture you can see a stub on the left side of the wing, which means this is to be inserted into a larger piece. I would love to see the finished product. He uses a large dremel and a power chisel, which he holds with great skill and precision. There are other tools that look similar to files of different coarseness to add texture and to remove material. Wow, you artists are something else. He said working with alabaster is similar to woodworking. They also have lathes to carve and shape the stone, and wet sanding to get various finishes.

He works without a mask and we questioned the wisdom, to which he proudly replied that the dust was of no danger because it had no silica. Our response, to ourselves, was: "So what, his lungs were still processing powdered stone! " To each his own.

From Volterra, we drove to San Gimignano (sahn jee-meen-YAH-noh):

San G is known for its medieval towers (14 of the original 60 remain):

A late afternoon cappucino in San G before returning to Volterra:

Tuesday morning, must be laundry day:

Tuesday afternoon lunch, cappucino, and Internet at the Wine and Web:

Lay day today, of sorts. Going to go peek at a Roman ruin then return to our apartment for a little down time. Tomorrow, we're leaving early for a full day in Siena! And we're NOT taking our laptop with us, so next post will be Thursday morning! A siesta from blogging . . . .

But wait, Howard has a post script he must share:

To some degree, all of you know Dayna as well as I do. The things you share, the caring you have and the love of art brings you all together; but did you know what she says when she is really at a loss for words and scared?

I was driving, you know, the Italian style, and I needed to turn around. So, I just pulled over, calculated the turning radius as I backed up, and immediately executed a quick 180 degree turn, missing the embankment by a good 1-2" at a pretty good clip. Dayna's voice began to quiver and her body stiffened and as I turned she yelled: "Geeeee whizzzzz." That's it, no bad word, nothing, just "Geeee whizzzz." I hope I can get her to do that again, because it means we are really having fun.


Lynn said...

What a lovely way to share your travels... I am very inspired by the photos, your wonderful shared prose and the look of joy on your faces. Bless you both! Lynn Sherman

Bridget B. said...

The pictures of San G and Volterra were beautiful - I do love old hill towns like that - but the Geeee Whizzz story? Priceless!

Shelly said...

Hi Dayna !
Just wanted to say "HI" - we met in Ann Baldwin's class in Portland (I sat to your right in the Abstract Collage class.)
My God, you are in Italy !! Your photos are beautiful and posts make the reader feel like they are right along with you guys. Great to see you are living life to the fullest.
Take care.
My new blog:

Lisa Kaus said...

I'm so envious- I have been following your trip- you look like you are having a fabulous time!
What a wonderful way to document your journey... Hope to meet up with you again in Portland.

gl. said...

what does howard do while you're typing away at the keyboard at a cafe? besides take pix of you, of course. :)

the "gee whiz" story made me laugh! when i was in australia i accidentally drove me and my bf michael onto the wrong way on a one-way street. as traffic rushed towards us, i heard michael softly say just one word, which i never heard him say before or since (and i've known him for over 12 years now): "fuck." fortunately we're still alive to tell the tale!

Destree said...

I had so many things I was going to comment on, and now all I can think of is "Gee Whizzzzz" ha ha Who knew you were such a goodie two shoes :0)