Volterra, a haven of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance art, dominates the Cecina Valley 550 metres above sea level, affording a spectacular view as far as 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
Volterra boasts more than three thousand years of history and offers three important museums which are open everyday of the year.
Sites to visit in Volterra:
A visit to the Guarnacci Museum is essential to understand the Etruscan heritage of Volterra as well as the Acropolis, situated in the Enrico Fiumi park, an archeological site that reveals stratas from the Etruscan, Roman and Medieval eras.
The Etruscan arched gate, the Porta all’Arco that dates back to the 4th century BCE and the extremely well preserved Roman Theatre and Baths.
The Devil’s Valley and the steam jets
The Piazza San Giovanni affords a breathtaking view of the undulating hills (the Metal Hills) and the Larderello geothermal plant.
The main streets such as Via Matteotti and Via dei Sarti provide an array of alabaster artisan shops, food shops selling local organic produce, artisan pastry shops, Palazzo Viti and the Historical Art Gallery that houses the famous Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino.
Historical Art Gallery and Civic Museum.
The Palazzo Minucci Solaini, a remarkable example of late 15th century Renaissance architecture, has housed the Art Gallery since 1982 and exhibits splendid and exceptional works of art such as the Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino, the polyptych by Taddeo di Bartolo and the Pietà by Francesco Neri. The collection is enriched by sculptures, Medieval ceramics, medals and coins.
Volterra and the surrounding area
You need a few days to visit places in the surrounding area.
Larderello, once known as the Devil’s Valley, is notable to many for its steam jets and geothermal plant that supplies 25% of the electricity requirements in Tuscany.
Well worth a visit is the Geothermal energy Museum which attracts 60.000 visitors a year. Founded in the late 1950’s, the museum traces the history and development of the geothermal energy in Larderello.
Once the home of the well known painter Pomarancio, Pomarance is a small quiet town where the ruins of the nearby Rocca Sillana, recently reopened to the public, rises on the top of a hill.
Montecatini Val di Cecina is well known for its copper mines exploited since the Etruscan era and today open to the public for educational visits. The well preserved Medieval village perched on the top of a hill offers panoramic views of Volterra and the Balze.
The Balze (the Crags), a leisurely walk from the centre of Volterra, is a dramatic sight to behold, a natural landslip created by the erosion of the layers of clay and sandy soils.
The Val d’Era boasts an annual venue that takes place at the open air theatre the Teatro di Silenzio where Lajatico’s most famous citizen Andrea Bocelli performs to an international audience.