Vampire haunted Volterra

For many years this small Tuscan town has attracted visitors drawn to its Etruscan past and medieval monuments. But in the last few months, it has become the haunt of thousands of teenage fans of the Twilight saga, whose fictional vampires are supposed to live here.

Published on 27 April 2010 at 13:18
This ancient Etruscan town has become a pilgrimage site for fans of the "Twilight" saga.

Marco Buselli stands on the steps leading up to the top of Volterra's bell tower. From that perch, he can see the fog-wreathed hills surrounding the city, the ancient Etruscan city wall and, closer still, a tangle of alleyways. At 35, Buselli is young to be a mayor. Yet sometimes he has a hankering to experience his town as it was in the Middle Ages -- when barely any strangers visited it. Back then, the town seemed almost unreachable, buried among the hills and hidden away from the rest of the world.

Buselli likes to ascend the tower above the central square. It is part of the Palazzo dei Priori, which houses his office. Here, he finds the peace and quiet he needs to contemplate how his town can connect to the rest of the world but still remain true to itself. Like the mayors of many other Italian cities, Buselli is worried about selling out to commercial interests. He doesn't want trinket shops like the ones in Venice, nor does he want a face-lift like the one that the medieval Tuscan town of San Gimignano has had. He wants Volterra to remain authentic, a real town rather than a scenic backdrop.

And Buselli's concerns are justified: For about a year now, vampire fans from around the world have been overrunning Volterra. The reason behind this flood of visitors is American author Stephenie Meyer and the best-selling books in her Twilight saga, which have already sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Volterra happens to be the ancient city inhabited by the elite of Meyer's fictional vampire universe.

On the piazza down below stands a tour guide surrounded by teenagers. Dika Boelen has lived in Volterra for 25 years. The 59-year-old Dutchwoman used to guide around left-wing teachers from Germany who stayed on farms instead of hotels, read Communist poet Pier Paolo Pasolini and raved about eco-friendly wine-making. Read full article in Spiegel Online International...

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