Volterra geological field trip: alabaster, fumaroles and badlands

by Simo Capecchi in Volterra (Tuscany, Italy)

Last week I was in Volterra to check my next workshop locations. 

This ancient tuscan city is world famous for its alabaster artisans and I was curious to see where this material can be found and be extracted from. Even if most of local artisans nowadays import it from Spain, there is still a local factory that uses an old quarry, apparently the only active one nearby. Small and big white stones are scattered along the hill, among the grass and flowered gorses, in the beautiful Tuscan landscape. The quarry owner showed me different kind of alabaster and how to “clean” the rocks as to obtain a good piece of material to work. Alabaster is used both for arts and crafts than for furnitures and for lamps or windows, due to its transparency. 

alabaster quarry

Than, I went to the Geothermal park in Sasso Pisano, an impressive landscape where I look forward to paint again. Rocks here are yellow, red, black and white, with steaming thermal spring all over. There’s a lot to learn and to see about all sort of geothermal activity.

Sasso Pisano

Nearby Volterra I sketched from the “Balze”, incredible clay badlands where actually the city’s ancient walls are – dangerously – build upon!

le balze

Alabaster, hot thermal springs and badlands are challenging subjects to paint and I didn’t have time to do it properly. I’m really curious to see what we’ll do with the group, going back there to paint in a few weeks.

I also sketched once again in Villa Le Guadalupe’s living room, where some objects from the design collection of da Volterra werkstatt are now displayed. It is always a pleasure to live for a few days in such an inspiring place!

villa Le Guadalupe

On Sunday June 28, the Villa Le Guadalupe (that hosts our workshop) will be open to the public from 4 pm: if you are around in Tuscany, do come to meet me and the workshop group – and to visit the villa and its design collection. A map here.

More drawings and photos of Volterra from past five years here

Next workshop starts in 2 weeks! Infos here.


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