Volterra, a haven of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Rennaissance art, dominates the Cecina Valley, 550 metres above sea level, affording a spectacular view as far as to the sea. The city retains traces of its majestic past, which gradually unfurls as you wander through the narrow streets and explore the Etruscan Museum, the Art Gallery and Museum of Sacred Art.
Volterra is a city of art that like few others, can document with its monuments three thousand years of history. It is not surprising therefore, that visitors have the opportunity to admire the three museums, with one ticket, every day of the year.
Yet, Volterra’s charm lies not only in its historic patrimony but also in the surrounding countryside, undefiled slow traditional way of life and its age-old tradition of alabaster carving.
This elusive stronghold requires careful and patient attention as it takes time to absorb its timeless atmosphere, treasured secrets, unique atmosphere and culture. It is one of the most unspoiled areas in the region, close to other important art centres and the coast; Volterra is the ideal choice for a holiday in Tuscany
Volterra is a very important ancient Etruscan settlement situated in astrategic position amidst the metalliferous hills and at 30 minutes from the sea where it had its commercial port 2500 years ago. It is a fascinating city owing to the Etruscans who left numerous traces of their presence, some of which are still visible today like the city doors and walls, and treasures found in the necropolis.
What is there to see in Volterra?… a visit to the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum is essential in order to absorb the atmosphere of the Etruscan roots, along with a visit to The Etruscan Acropolis, in the archaeological area of the “Enrico Rossi” park, where there is a superimposition of structures from the Etruscan, Roman and medieval eras.
Also recommended is a stop at “Porta Diana” dating back to the period between the 3rd and 4th century BC.
In addition to the Etruscan buildings, you can admire Roman treasures like the almost entirely preserved amphitheatre and baths.
Today, Volterra is a typical medieval town, where the tower houses of 13th century along the streets, and public buildings on Piazza dei Priori are the heart of the traditional events at any time of the year. In Piazza del Duomo you can admire the monuments in Pisano Romanesque style: the Baptistry containing a cover of an Etruscan urn and the Cathedral with its wonderful polychrome wood and various paintings of considerable interest. Take a stroll along Via Matteotti and Via dei Sarti and breathe the atmosphere of everyday life with Volterra’s Alabaster artisan workshops, local and organic produce, famous bakeries. Visit the the Pinacoteca art gallery and admire Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition and a table of Ghilandaio.
Volterra also affords breathtaking views of the Metalliferous hills and the fumaroles of Larderello.
The Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. The largest collection is that of the Etruscan era, flanked by the Prehistoric and Roman sections. In the Museum there are over 600 urns in alabaster and pottery, as well as a rich collection of numismatics, ceramics, jewellery, sculptures, tools, religious icons and bronze statues.
The Pinacoteca di Volterra – housed since 1982, in the halls of the Palazzo Minucci Solaini, a remarkable example of late-15th-century architecture. Besides the famous and magnificent table of Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition, the polyptych by Taddeo da Bartolo, and the Piety by Francesco Neri from Volterra there are many other works to be admired like the the many sculptures and medieval ceramics, the medal collection and a collection of Numismatic interest.
Museo d’Arte Sacra. The exhibition presents works from the Cathedral and churches of the Diocese: paintings, sculptures, vestments and objects of worship.
Volterra & Surroundings
Volterra’s surroundings are well worth a visit: the famous fumaroles in the geothermal area known as the “Devil’s Valley” near Larderello and the natural steam emissions at Sasso Pisano and Monterotondo M.mo – the fluid from the subsoil produces about 27% of the electricity requirements of the entire Tuscany.
Also very interesting to visit is the Geothermal Museum, which attracts approximately 20,000 visitors a year. Founded at the end of the 50s, it traces the history of geothermal energy in all its aspects: research, drilling, use systems of geothermal fluid for power production.
Pomarance, the birthplace of the painter of the same name, is a quiet village in the High Cecina Valley. The urban centre of Pomarance is well worth a visit, especially the Parish church which houses the paintings of Cristofano Roncalli and Nicolò Cercignani, La Piazza della Pretura and the splendid nineteenth century palaces in Via Roncalli including in the distance the recently restored Rocca Sillana, majestically crowns the surrounding landscape.
Montecatini Val di Cecina boasts ancient copper mines exploited from Etruscan times and beautifully illustrated today through an educational path. Nearby, in a panoramic position, the intact medieval village offers a fantastic view over Volterra and Le Balze.
Besides the monuments and the numerous testimonies to art and history, Volterra offers the view over the hilly landscape surrounding, that is suddenly arrested by the wild and awesome view over the Balze (cliffs). One of the most famous areas of Volterra, the Balze are an interesting natural phenomenon of soil erosion.
In Val d’era, The Teatro del Silenzio (or Theatre of Silence) is an amphitheatre located in Laiatico – the hometown of top Andrea Bocelli. The theatre hosts a concert by Bocelli, once a year in July or August while remaining silent the rest of the year.