Volterra, a hilltop village with imposing walls, will simply leave you breathless. If you have been to Siena and San Gimignano, you will find that this enchanting location also has its own and characteristic charm; Volterra still preserves evident traces of its Etruscan past – it was, in fact, one of the 12 most powerful centers from the 4th to the 6th century BC – and of the Roman one, which you can admire during your visit to the city, starting from what remains of the ancient walls, of Etruscan origins, whose construction continued, however, until the Middle Ages.
Staying here is ideal for exploring the coast, the central part of Tuscany and many other areas of interest. Check the accommodations to book directly with the owners at the best prices.
Volterra is a very popular destination for many fans of the Twilight series, but they will be disappointed to discover that the scenes from the films that they thought were shot here were actually filmed about 100 km away, in Montepulciano. Despite, however, its recent popularity, Volterra remains much less known – and, consequently, visited – than the nearby San Gimignano, one more reason to include it in your itinerary in Tuscany, perfect to visit throughout the year but especially during the summer months, when the most famous places are crowded with tourists. Below you will find our suggestions on the places not to be missed in Volterra during an excursion of at least one day (but also two or three).
Well before the Twilight series was filmed, I visited this charming village during the medieval festival held every August Volterra AD 1398 and I literally fell in love with its narrow streets and central square, presided over by the beauty of the 13th century Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo Pretorio.
Palazzo dei Priori is the oldest town hall in all of Tuscany, although the tower was destroyed during an earthquake and rebuilt in the 19th century. On the other hand, the tower of Palazzo Pretorio is known by the name of Torre del Porcellino for the characteristic shape of the stone on the top – don’t forget to look for it and observe it! The palace was the seat of the municipality.
Dating back to 1120, the interior of the cathedral was massively modified in the Renaissance period (more precisely in 1584, after the Council of Trent). This explains the reason for the mix of Romanesque (the facade) and Renaissance architecture, in particular in the richly decorated and gilded ceiling and the different frescoed chapels.
The cathedral houses many works of art by renowned Italian artists including Andrea della Robbia, Mino da Fiesole and Benozzo Gozzoli, author of a beautiful fresco dated 1479.
The 13th-century baptistery is located on the opposite side of the cathedral and has an octagonal base, with a facade decorated in white and dark green marble. It is quite small and simple but preserves its interior a beautiful baptismal font in marble with an octagonal plan, sculpted in 1502 by Andrea Sansovino.
The museum houses hundreds of funeral urns from the Hellenistic and Archaic period found in the area, many of which were obtained from alabaster and tuff; it is one of the oldest public museums in Europe, inaugurated in 1761 by the nobleman Mario Guarnacci with the donation of his large archaeological collection, the result of years and years of research and purchases, for “the public of the city of Volterra”. The donation, which also includes a library with over 50,000 volumes, not only allowed Volterra to have a rich cultural heritage to offer to its inhabitants and visitors, but also ensured that the collection remained in the “home” rather than being sold and shipped who knows. where is it.