Italy: Quiet Volterra And The Leaning Tower Of Pisa

Submitted by Andrew Olbrich on the 2019 winter session study abroad program in Italy sponsored by the Department of Philosophy…

This past week, I was in Volterra, and compared to what I’ve experienced on both this program and what I’m used to back in the United States, this was a completely different city. Living near Philadelphia, I’m accustomed to being around a lot of people and going to crowded locations with many restaurants and stores. Volterra, however, is the complete opposite of this. This town of 20,000 people is nothing like I have experienced before. There are very few shops, and most restaurants are closed during the winter off season. But the view made up for the lack of population. Right on top of a hill, Volterra overlooks endless Tuscan hills, vineyards and small mountains. The sunsets alone make visiting here worth it. The food was authentic Tuscan cuisine and was some of the best I had all program. As I said before, Volterra is unlike any other city I’ve seen before. It was an extremely small town compared to Florence, Rome, and other cities that I’ve been to. This provided a bit of a shock, since I’m used to the hustle and bustle of a city. But nevertheless, it was a beautiful city and I am happy to have been able to stay there for a week.

We also visited Siena and Pisa while staying in Volterra. These cities are much bigger than Volterra and it was a relief to finally be around a lot of people. As an engineer, I am curious about the Leaning Tower of Pisa and how they are able to correct some of the leaning. Turns out, they dug small tunnels underneath the tower itself and the weight of the tower slowly corrected itself from leaning 9% to just around a 4% lean. I thought this was very interesting and great to see engineering at work in the world.

Tuscan sunset, Volterra, Italy
Leaning Tower of Pisa