*** NEW: In Anticipation of Vampire Movie, Volterra Tuscany Launches New Moon Tour (Free Italy Travel Advice) ***

style=”font-style: italic;”>“The sun
continued to climb high in the sky as Alice raced against it… style=”font-style: italic;”>
“There,”
Alice said abruptly, pointing to the castle city atop the closest hill.
style=”font-style: italic;”>
  
 I stared at it, feeling for the very first hint of a new kind
of fear… And yet, now, as I stared at the ancient sienna
walls and towers crowning the peak of the steep hill, I felt another,
more selfish kind of dread thrill through me.
style=”font-style: italic;”>
  
 I supposed the city was very beautiful. It absolutely
terrified me.
style=”font-style: italic;”>
‘Volterra,’
Alice announced in a flat, icy voice.”

    
|image1| If you don’t recognize that passage, you probably
aren’t one of the thousands (perhaps millions?) of screaming
teens, pre-teens and adults who flocked to movie theaters for the second movie based on Stephenie Myers’best-selling
vampire Twilight saga, href=”http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/newmoon_movie.html”> style=”font-style: italic;”>New Moon.

Here, the book’s protagonist, Bella, and Alice, the sister of
Bella’s love interest, vampire Edward, are racing to the
hilltop town to save said love interest from the movie’s
vampiric royal family, the style=”font-style: italic;”>Volturi,
whom Edward is trying to provoke into killing him after believing Bella
to be dead.  Like all things romantic, the story is
complicated and dramatics ensue.

The Volturi hail from the href=”http://www.dreamofitaly.com/public/department55.cfm”>Tuscan
village of Volterra
where, as of 2004, the total population was just over 11,000. However,
the small, fortified city might soon see a sudden increase in traffic
after the  href=”http://www.volterratur.it/” target=”_blank”>Volterra’s
tourism office  wisely
created a Twilight-themed tour package called href=”http://www.volterratur.it/Docs/volturi_ENG2.pdf”
target=”_blank”>“Hot on the Trail of Bella
and Edward” 
where avid fans can retrace the book’s fictional characters. (See a slideshow of Volterra presented by href=”http://goitaly.about.com/od/volterra/ss/volterra-new-moon-photos.htm”
target=”_blank”>GoItaly.About.com)

The three-day package includes two nights at your choice of a
four-star, three-star or youth accommodation as well as:

  • the night-time walk
    “Hot on the Trail of Bella and Edward”
  • dinner in an ancient palazzo
  • the morning walk “Mystery
    and Magic of the Ancient Velathri” – touring Volterra’s archeaological
    remains and ancient palazzi
  • a guided tour of the
    Etruscan hypogea, underground tombs
  • visits to the Museum of
    Torture, other museums and galleries
  • a blood red aperitif and
    Charlies and Bella’s pizza

Package rates begin at 270 euros per person for hostel accommodations
and range to 395 euros per person for four-star digs. Packages
available every weekend.

Although Volterra may be capitalizing on Meyers’ blockbuster flick, the Volterra scene of New Moon was actually filmed in the Tuscan town Montepulciano, about 70 miles away. Pietra Detassis, the director of the film Ciak told TwilightersItalia.com that Montepulciano was chosen because it was “more beautiful” than Volterra.

However, neither Italy nor New Moon fanatics should fret. This is just how things work in the movie industry. Legally Blonde was filmed at UCLA instead of, Harvard, and Lord of the Rings was, alas, not filmed in Middle Earth, but in New Zealand.

If the dates don’t align or the “New Moon” tour
doesn’t strike your fancy, not to worry -Volterra offers much
more than the backdrop to a pair of starcross’d lovers. It is
located just 18 miles from href=”http://www.dreamofitaly.com/members/225.cfm”>San
Gimignano and accessible by car
(Alice and Bella use a stolen Porsche; probably not the greatest idea)
or by local buses.

Volterra has a long, 3,000-year history dating back to Etruscan rule in
the 8th Century B.C. In the 4th Century B.C., a defensive wall
was constructed around the center and pastureland allowing the city to
withstand a two-year siege in 82 B.C.

Although Volterra lacks large, monumental landmarks , it’s
had its share of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance- influenced
art and architecture and  sits 1,800 feet high in the hills of
Tuscany. The href=”http://www.comune.volterra.pi.it/english/cittait/citpiaz.html”> style=”font-style: italic;”>Palazzo dei Priori 
is the
oldest town hall in Tuscany and serves as the main square of Volterra.
Scattered around town are style=”font-style: italic;”>palazzi,
towers and churches including the
href=”http://www.comune.volterra.pi.it/english/cittait/duomo.html”
target=”_blank”>Duomo

which was dedicated to the Assumption Mary and reconstructed around
1120. Surrounding the city is the aforementioned href=”http://www.comune.volterra.pi.it/english/cittait/murport.html”
target=”_blank”>13th-century wall
and
six gated entrances, each
unique in its design and purpose
Volterra’s Etruscan Guarnacci Museum
is one of the earliest public museums in Europe and was founded in
1760. The museum features a variety of objects from the region
including more than 600 Etruscan funerary urns and ceramics and pottery
from Pre-History to Roman Antiquity. 


Michael Lowe

Photo
credit: href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/artistica2004/2707909940/”
target=”_blank”>Francesco Sgroi, flickr.com