A visit to Volterra should not only be for the city itself, but also for the area that surrounds it. It’s called the “Balze” of Volterra because of the “terrace” effect and appearance that resembles many other towns in the country. History teaches us that the importance of the “balze” of Volterra is different, because the landslides and typical deep terraces that we see today used to hold an Etruscan necropolis. The Tuscan civilization left traces that nature later destroyed. How?
The answer is in the technical passage that allowed the erosion of the weaker sand layers located underneath more resistant ones and therefore caused the collapse of some segments of the landscape. In the area around Volterra, the ancient Etruscan remains are not the only ones that were affected by this – today we can only see some remains of the ancient walls, that can also a walking path to admire the landscape where the collapses occurred – but more recent historical happenings are also a proof of this. A precious abbey from the Middle Ages was also the victim of the landslides and movements of sand layers. It is the abbey of Camaldolese, a structure with an attached church that was heavily affected by the erosions of the 17th century. The abbey is now abandoned but it’s certainly worth visiting to be immersed in an ancient and almost surreal atmosphere in the cloister and refectory.