Volterra Twilight… New Moons, Volturi and Love In The Film Set That Never Was

I love tourists.

Would you pay 300 euro to be taken down ‘the oldest medieval alley in Europe’, still to this day known, and allegedly used, as ‘Il Pisciatoio’ (roughly translated as ‘The Urinal’)? Not convinced? How about if that alley was also the location of a meeting that never took place, between two entirely fictitious characters, one of whom is of a species that never existed, in a city that never was the set of a film adapted from a book an American author located here, based solely on the coincidental similarity of a name to an entirely invented group of purely legendary characters, after one fleeting visit in May of 2007 during which, according to locals, she ‘saw nothing’?

New Moon, New Tourists?

New Moon, New Tourists?

I love tourists because the answer is yes, many would, and do.

Welcome to Volterra, Tuscany, Italy; location of the last chapters of the second book; New Moon in the incredibly successful Twilight Series. This is the home of the supposed Royal Family of vampires, the Volturi and now site of the popular ‘Volterra – Shadow of the Volturi’ guided tours (featuring ‘Il Pisciatoio’).

Today, around 11.000 souls call this place home. There is no evidence any of whom are undead, suck blood or even live underground. But when Stephanie Meyer, then aged 36 and author of the book series that follows the unlikely love story between American teenager Isabella Swan and (largely) vegetarian vampire Edward Cullen, Volterra’s medieval streets, Etruscan underground remains and most of all, the name itself was enough to clinch the deal. Volterra was written into the pages of New Moon and rest is movie history.

I arrived, still blissfully unaware off all this, on a decidedly sleepy, hazy April afternoon and drove up as the road snaked to the very top of this once, pre-Roman Etruscan stronghold. The appeal and sense of unspoiled Tuscany in Voleterra is apparent as soon as one sees the small groups of ‘old friends’ clustered on and around the few benches dotted next to the bus turning circle, which marks the limit of non-residential traffic. It’s a medieval Italian, hill-top town, so you really expect old people on benches, especially during that languid spell after lunch where, in still relatively tourist free towns, you can almost experience a sense of communal digestion.

Scary Stuff, Bring Garlic

Scary Stuff, Bring Garlic

In the Tourist office, three locals are engaged in chatter. All work in tourism, one runs the place, another the office in nearby Pisa and the third, an elder lady is a local city guide. Neither, is rushed into interrupting their conversation, despite now being joined by what are clearly two tourists in need of information. Eventually we are handed some leaflets and a map of the town. Two American ladies enter accompanied by a teenager. The guide gets up. They are her clients. Here to learn all about… Vampires. While they make a ‘technical stop’ prior to their two hour, private walking tour, I make my ‘Twilight discovery’ and hear for the first time about this wave of tourism sweeping the town.

This small group of travellers, on a whistle stop tour of Italy, have included Volterra as a destination this afternoon, to tread the footsteps of these creatures that never were, in this city that never was. Volterra is a beautiful town, a Roman theatre from the time of Julius Cesar, Etruscan walls, a Medici prison all play no part whatsoever in the books and presumably on these guided walks are omitted in favour of The Urinal. I wonder what the guide thinks about all this. At this stage in her career, she has retrained, learning all about the sucking of blood, teenage angst and love.


A Little More Than Just Vampires...

A Little More Than Just Vampires…

The group set off, the kid is carrying a wooden gladius, the type of sword that gave the name to Gladiators. ‘Would you not be better off with a stake?’ I ask him. It turns out he too has ‘trained’ at the same gladiator school as I in Rome, two days ago. He beats his chest in manner of the ancient salute we were both taught. He fears nothing as he plods off. I sometimes fear for the future of tourism as I wonder off to look at the theatre in the real Volterra twilight…

~ by 2ndcupoftea on May 27, 2013.

One Response to “Volterra Twilight… New Moons, Volturi and Love In The Film Set That Never Was”

  1. […] soon, thanks to hitting a rich vein of tortured adolescent passion (of which The Twilight series is perhaps the best example) hundreds then thousands of couples throughout Europe were imitating the […]

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