For three thousand years in the heart of Tuscany

The city of Volterra was founded by the Etruscans around the 7th century BCE on the top of a hill that had already been inhabited in ancient times. From this centre, the settlement expanded to become one of the most important Etruscan cities. Today, Volterra’s legacy from that period includes the Porta all’Arco (Arched Gateway), the Etruscan Walls, and the shrines of the Acropolis.

In Roman times, it was a flourishing town: monumental buildings such as the theater, the public baths, and the amphitheater were built. Following the end of that ancient period, the city was transformed into an important centre for the Church, until it was established as a municipality (a comune) in medieval times. The entire historic city centre – the churches, the walls, the tower houses, and the grand buildings – now form the image of the city.

Today most of the city’s masterpieces are on display in museums: the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci, the Pinacoteca Civica, and the Diocesan Museum. Others are preserved in their original settings, inside churches, and in particular in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

In the historic centre, there is evidence of craftsmanship in alabaster, a type of stone worked since the time of the Etruscans, used above all for sculpture, vases, dishes, and various kinds of lamps


Tourist office
Piazza dei Priori, 20
tel: +39 0588 86099 – 0588 87257

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“The Etruscan and Roman capital, the pearl of medieval art, a crossroads of peoples, a collection of art works”

Also found in the historic centre is the Palazzo dei Priori, the heart of political life in the ancient municipality of Volterra, a majestic example of the power of the city.

Construction of the Palazzo, now the town hall, began in 1208 and was completed around the middle of that century. The facade has undergone considerable changes over time; today it is decorated with numerous terracottas and coats of arms, affixed in memory of the Commissioners who ruled the city, and with lions, symbols of Florentine rule, placed on the side pillars. Among the windows of the ground floor, you can see, carved into the rock, the official unit of measure of the ancient municipality, the "Canna Volterrana" (the cane, or yardstick, of Volterra).

Raising your eyes, you can see the windows of the upper floors, Gothic style, and the wonderful clock, dating from 1393.

Volterra Cathedral, the religious and artistic heart of the city and the territory, is an admirable example of medieval architecture.

For centuries it has been a prestigious bishop's seat. The church, with its square, is the religious centre of life for the community of both Volterra and the diocese.

The works of art preserved inside are of great importance, chief among them the group of five sculptures depicting the "Deposition of Christ from the Cross" in carved polychrome wood.

You can also admire a large complex of 13th-century sculptures, among the most important and best preserved of which are those that form the pulpit.

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