A visit to Volterra is something to be treasured. Blessed with luminous stone and an air of quiet mystery, the town houses Tuscany’s top Etruscan collections and boasts the handsome Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest communal palace of the region. Discover all its treasures with our itinerary.
One day in Volterra – Explore its fascinating past
Enter the town from Porta all’Arco and get ready to step back in time. This is the only surviving gate from the original 7 kilometre Etruscan wall that enclosed the city at the time when Volterra was a powerful member of the Etruscan League of Twelve Cities. The 4th century door is still standing, with weather beaten gods’ heads watching over the entrance.
Once in Piazza dei Priori, architecturally one of the finest Medieval squares in all of Tuscany, you get the best of the atmosphere that envelops the town. The 13th century Priori Palace is well worth a visit for the frescoed council chamber and for the breathtaking view at the top of the tower. Not to mention the climb to get there.
The area around the square is dotted with artisan shops and restaurants, charming streets like Via Matteotti and Via Buonparenti with its house-towers joined by a brick archway. An exploration of the ubiquitous alabaster shops gives you a window into the other heart of Volterra, namely its artisan tradition.
Inside the Cathedral the simplicity of the Romanesque facade is soon forgotten, the art works and the gilt covered ceiling enriching the interior. If you’re in the mood for another church, San Francesco’s Capella della Croce di Giorno has some memorable frescos.
For another look into Volterra’s past, walk to the Roman Theatre which is visible from just outside the city walls near Porta Fiorentina. You’ll need a ticket to walk inside the grounds. The semi-circular seating was built directly into the hill, and was reached by radial stairways and a roofed corridor that can still be seen today.
Finally, to learn more about the people who founded the city, immerse yourself in the Etruscan world at the Museum Guarnacci, with an amazing collection of funerary urns and the fascinating statue of “Ombra della Sera” (Evening Shadow). It is one of the richest Etruscan collections in Tuscany.
And before you leave, whatever you do, don’t forget to sample the truffles, one of the typical and prized products of the area.