Volterra is a village of 10,200 habitants. It is commonly recognized as one of themost important Etruscan centers in Tuscany. Those who visit the city remainimpressed by its majestic medieval feel. It was in this era that the city took on theshape and appearance it has today. From the city walls and gates to the windinglanes, formidable stone houses, remarkable towers, impressive palaces andmagnificent churches, all of which are veritable treasures filled with troves ofTuscan art work. During the middle ages it was the most important city inTuscany. Today it has a great city center with Etruscan ruins such as: Porta AllArco, Porta Diana, the surround wall, the Acropoli, cisterns and other historicalattractions. The city is most popular for the alabaster extraction.

Important attractions:

Palazzo del priori:
This is the oldest town hall in Tuscany. It was built between1208 and 1257. Inside there is an exhibit of paintings dedicated to the city ofVolterra. There are artistic treasures from the Middle Ages to the earlyRenaissance. There are approximately 200 pieces of art work, manuscripts,sculptures and textiles, all of which pay witness to the refined culture of thepatrons of the arts in Volterra. They continually sought out artists from thenearby prestigious centers of Pisa, Siena and Florence. Paintings from the 12 thand 13 th century (Benozzzo, Gozzoli, Signorelli, Domenico, Ghirlandaio, FrancescoNeri) and lesser known wooden crucifix are also displayed. Most of the 15 thcentury textiles came from prestigious Florentine production studios such as thatof Botticelli. The exhibit is enriched by a parallel itinerary through the city ofVolterra by discovering the churches, buildings and museums that houseinnumerable works of art. All of these historical places constitute the heart ofone of the best preserved medieval cities in Tuscany.

Pinacoteca – Civic Art Museum:
The Renaissance Palace Minucci Solaini hashoused the Pinacoteca since 1982. It is one of the most beautiful examples ofrenaissance architecture that is found in Volterra. The palace also has works bythe Master of Monterotondo, Taddeo di Bartolo, Pirez D’ Evora, as well asmasterpieces by Luca Signorelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio.
The Roman Theater:
The excavation carried out in the 1950’s by Enrico Fiumijust beyond the Porta Fiorentina uncovered on of the finest and most wellpreserved Roman theaters in Italy. The theater has been shown to date from the1 st century BC. The entrance to the theater is no longer visible. Still visible,however, are the nineteen rows of seats built on a natural slope in the central andlower sectors and the semicircular orchestra. This theater could house 1800-2000 spectators. Year later, when the building was being used for differentpurposes a thermal bath was added in the area of portico.New Fortress: The structure consists of two walls, the original Rocca Vecchia(1342) and the Rocca Nuova (Lorenzo il Magnifico) committed in 1472. Today thisstructure is used as a state prison.

The cathedral can be found in San Giovanni Square. It wasconsecrated in 1120 and in the 12 th Century remodeled by artist from Pisa. TheBapistery was built in the 13 th Century with an octagonal base and covered withmarble stones.

Illustrious people from Volterra

  • Leone I ( Leone Magno) nacque in Toscana forse a Volterra nel 390 e morì a Roma il 10 Novembre 461.
  • Mauro Staccioli (1937-2018). His contemporary art sculptures are shape linked with urban space and society. His speciality is called sign sculpture and emphasizes the history, place and impact of humankind. He has exhibits all around the world from New York to Portorico and Peru. He studied the places and characteristics of the places where he was called to work. Thematerial he most often used was corten steel. The most famous of his works is the circle at the entrance of Volterra. This work is called “ Primi Passi” ( First Steps) because it is a sort of telescope and frame pointing and including an old abandoned house in the valley where his Grandparents used to live and where he lived his early years.

Typical local dishes:
Baccalà alla Fiorentina, Cenci, Wildboard with mushrooms and polenta, hare cooked with 3 wines, chickpeas soup, panzanella, ribollita, stuffed sardin.

Events in Volterra :
  • the “ UT Armentur Balesarii” in June - is a competition with old balestra among the best balestrieri of Volterra to win the title of Priore of Balestrieri” ( Master of Balestrieri)
  • “ Palio del Cero” in June competition of tug of war among the 8 contrades in whichVolterra is divided
  • “Astiludio” . In September . A competition among 4 crew of flag player caming from 4 different citys (Volterra included)
  • "La corsa dei caci “ Last Sunday of October -The 4 Contrades of Volterra must run along the steep road of Franceschini street wearing medieval costumes and pushing and rolling big cheese shape
What Volterra is Famous for.

The Alabaster :
The Alabaster in Volterra is the most precious of Europe. Caves and Gallerys made of big block of this prestigious stone with egg shape. The Etruscans started to work it.
The world alabaster came from the egyptian Alabaster Town where in the past there were manifactures of pots and amphoras for perfumes. The chemical formula of alabaster is CaSO4.2H2O Calcium sulphate, dehydrate.
The Alabaster has different color and consistency. Depend how the soil is composed. Where we have not so rich subsoil we will find a transparent alabaster, wile the green and wite streps is because of a soil full of clay and the other in reddish, amber and orange color is thanks of the presence of the iron in the ground.
The caracteristic of Alabaster is compact Texture, transparency, hardness, veing and smoth to the touch. They mine the alabaster in the subsoil and is under the face of ovidal compact blocks socalled anioni.or eggs. They have various colors and composition. We can manifacture
the alabaster easier than the marble thanks for its malleability so it can reproduce decorative
motifs in detail. The tools used to work it are the same since centurys and are almost similar
to the one we use to work the wood. Volterra is proud to have the best and capable artisans since centurys and generations. The artisans have different skills and specialized in different part pf the work.
The Squares are the artisans they make pieces square.
The turners are the one they make pieces round.
Letter cutter are specialised in decoration.
The work is the result of the cooperation of different craftsmen. So we have the Squadratori, the turners, and the sculptor. Each of them has a different role in order to finish the object.
Since ancient times Volterra, a key trading center and one of the most important Etruscantowns, has been known as the city of alabaster. The Etruscan mind alabaster in the nearby hillsof the Tuscan countryside. The ancient Etruscans valued alabaster for the durability, color,natural veining and the luminous effects. Alabaster is used for craft vases, urns, decorativeobjects and large sculptures. The tools and methods used to mold this mineral are nearly thesame as those techniques used by artisans from the third century. Alabaster is an exceptionallyhard mineral and working with it is a very slow and laborious craft. As in the past, todayalabaster artisans specialize in this craft for specific objects. Before sending the object to themarket there is a cooperation of different artisans. An alabastraio begins with a block ofalabaster which may be roughed out or chiseled to get the desired size. A Squadratorespecializes in cutting it so as not to waste any valuable material. A Turner makes the piecesround and the Letter cutter specializes in decorating the piece. All work is done handcraftedwith some help from machines.


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