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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  Comune  —
Comune di Volterra

Coat of arms
Volterra is located in Italy
Location of Volterra in Italy
Coordinates: 43°24′N 10°52′E / 43.4°N 10.867°E / 43.4; 10.867Coordinates: 43°24′N 10°52′E / 43.4°N 10.867°E / 43.4; 10.867
Country Italy
Region Tuscany
Province Pisa (PI)
Frazioni Mazzolla, Saline di Volterra, Villamagna
 - Mayor Marco Buselli
 - Total 252 km2 (97.3 sq mi)
Elevation 531 m (1,742 ft)
Population (December 31, 2004)
 - Total 11,309
 Density 44.9/km2 (116.2/sq mi)
 - Demonym Volterrani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 56048
Dialing code 0588
Patron saint St. Justus
Saint day June 5
Website Official website

Volterra, known to the ancient Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy.

The Roman Theatre.
Frescoes in the Cathedral.



The town was a Neolithic settlement and an important Etruscan center (Felathri) with an original civilization; it became a municipium in the Roman Age. The city was a bishop's residence in the fifth century and its episcopal power was affirmed during the twelfth century. With the decline of the episcopate, Volterra became a place of interest of the Florentines, whose forces conquered Volterra. Florentine rule was not always popular, and opposition occasionally broke into rebellion. These rebellions were defeated by Florence.

When the Florentine Republic fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and later followed the history of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Main sights

  • Roman Theatre (1st century BC), excavated in the 1950s.
  • Piazza dei Priori
  • Palazzo dei Priori. Begun in 1208 and finished in 1257.
  • Rosso Fiorentino. Deposition. 1521. Oil on wood. 375 × 196 cm. Pinacoteca Comunale di Volterra, Italy.
    Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) in Palazzo Minucci-Solaini. The Gallery was founded in 1905 and consists mostly of works by Tuscan artists from 14th to 17th centuries. Includes Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino.
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. It was enlarged in the thirteenth century after an earthquake. It houses a ciborium and some angels by Mino da Fiesole, a notable wood Deposition (1228), a masterwork of Romanesque sculpture and the Sacrament Chapel, with paintings by Santi di Tito, Giovanni Balducci and Agostino Veracini. In the center of the vault are fragments of an Eternal Father by Niccolò Circignani. Also noteworthy is the Addolorata Chapel, with a terracotta group attributed to Andrea della Robbia and a fresco of Riding Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli. In the nearby chapel, dedicate to the Very Holy Name of Jesus, is a table with Christ's monogram, allegedly painted by Bernardine of Siena. The rectangular bell tower is from 1493.
  • Medicean Fortress (Maschio), now a penitentiary.
  • Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, with thousands of funeral urns dating back to the Hellenistic and Archaic periods. Main attractions are the bronze statuette "Shadow of the Night" and the sculpted effigy of an Etruscan couple in terra cotta.
  • The Etruscan walls, including the well-preserved Porta dell'Arco (3rd-2dn centuries BC) and Porta Diana gates.

Outside the city, in direction of Lajatico, is the Medici Villa di Spedaletto. Also in the neighborhood, in the Valle Bona area, are excavations of Etruscan tombs.

Volterra in literature

  • Volterra features in Horatius, the celebrated poem by Lord Macaulay - 'From lordly Volaterrae/Where scowls the far-famed hold/Piled by the hands of giants/For godlike kings of old'.

Volterra in popular fiction

  • Volterra is an important location in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. In the books, Volterra is home to the Volturi, a coven of powerful and ancient vampires.
  • Volterra is the site of Stendhal's famously disastrous encounter in 1819 with his beloved Countess Mathilde Dembowska: she recognised him there, despite his disguise of new clothes and green glasses, and was furious. This is the central incident in his book On Love.
  • Volterra is mentioned repeatedly in British author Dudley Pope's Captain Nicholas Ramage historical nautical series. Gianna, the Marchesa of Volterra and the fictional ruler of the area, features in the first twelve books of the sixteen-book series. The books chart the progress and career of Ramage during the Napoleonic wars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, providing readers with well-scripted articulate details of life aboard sailing vessels and conditions at sea of that time.
  • Volterra is the site where the novel Chimaira by the Italian author Valerio Massimo Manfredi takes place.
  • Volterra is featured in Jhumpa Lahiri's latest collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth. It is the location where Hema and Kaushik, the protagonists of the eponymous short story, take a trip to.

Twin cities


External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Volterra is a town in Tuscany, Italy.

Get in

Buses leave San Gimignano for Volterra (4/day 2 hours, change in Colle di Val d'Elsa) Buses arrive in Piazza Martiri della Libertà.

For drivers, the town is ringed with easy & free parking lots. The most central & only underground one is at Piazza Martiri della Libertà (€1.40/hour or €10/1 day)

Get around

Unnecessary, the town is compact & great for walking.

  • Porta all'Arco The town's best site is this gate built of massive volcanic stones in the 4th century B.C. It's part of t:-he town walls that were 4 miles around, twice as big as it is now
  • Duomo Great pulpit & altar. Notice how the entrance is through the baptistry, you couldn't enter until you were baptized, as the layout is here & in Pisa. Free & open daily 8:00-12:30 & 3:00-5:00
  • Sacred Art Museum A small 3-room museum of church art. €8 combo ticket includes Etruscan Museum & Pinacoteca, like it or not. Open daily 9:00-1:00 & 3:00-6:00, morning only in winter, well explained in English, next to Duomo
  • Etruscan MuseumOne of the best places in Europe for Etruscan art, it is filled top to bottom with it, though there are few English explanations. €8 combo ticket with Sacred Art & Pinacoteca Museums, open daily 9:00-7:00, November to March it closes at 1:45. €3 Audioguides, on Via Minzoni. Telephone: 0588-86-347
  • PinacotecaThis is a 14th century palace filled with great paintings, the highlights are the Annunciation & the Deposition of the Cross. €8 combo ticket includes Sacred Art & Etruscan Museums, open daily April to October 9:00-7:00, November to March closes at 1:45, on Via dei Sarti. Telephone: 0588-87580
  • Roman Theater Built in 10 B.C. and has great acoustics, plus a great view, but a just as good view can be found at the city wall promenade for free. €2, but the theater can be viewed for free from Via Lungo de Mere, open April to October daily 10:30-5:30, November to March it closes at 4:00
  • Palazzo dei Priori Volterra's city hall is probably the oldest in Tuscany, at nearly 800 years, and inspired the design for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The lavishly painted city council chambers are open to the public when there's no meetings. Open daily April to October 10:30-5:30, November to March on saturday & sunday only, 10:00-5:00
  • Via Matteotti is the main street of the town, named by a socialist leader killed by the fascists. It's lined with wonderfully decorated palaces & houses
  • Alabaster Workshop The Alab'Arte is a great place to see the beautiful stone displayed. A showroom is across the street from the Etruscan Museum at Via Don Minzoni, with the workshop at Via Orti Sant'Agostino. Both open Monday to Saturday 9:00-1:00 & 3:00-7:00, closed sunday
  • Wine Tasting La Vena di Vino is a great wine bar across the street from the Etruscan Museum, on Via Don Minzoni. They serve samples of a number of bottles a day, with food & music, and an unusual, bra-decorated interior. Open wednesday to monday 12:00-midnight, closed tuesday. Telephone: 0588-81491
  • Medici Fortress This unusual fortress is actually a prison for mob figures from Sicily. The park nearby was the Acropolis of Volterra for 3000 years until Florence burned it down & turned it into a park.
  • The Tourist Information office is on Piazza dei Priori, open daily 10:00-1:00 & 2:00-6:00, with €5 audioguides. Telephone: 0588-87257
  • Market Day is saturday
  • Ristorante Enoteca del Duca serves Tuscan food under medieval arches along wine bottle-covered walls or out on a patio, with €8 pastas, truffles, and a great wine list. Closed tuesday, near city hall on Via di Castello. Telephone: 0588-81510
  • La Vecchia Lira A quick, cheap, locally popular, self-serve eatery, serves fancy fish at night. Open friday to wednesday 12:00-3:00 & 7:30-10:30, closed thursday, on Via Matteotti. Telephone: 0588-86180
  • Ombra della Sera has the town's best pizza Open tuesday to sunday 12:00-3:00 & 7:00-10:00, closed monday, on Via Guarnacci. Telephone: 0588-85274
  • Ombra della Sera is also one of the town's best restaurants. Closed Mondays. Via A. Gramsci 70. Telephone 058886663
  • Ristorante Il Sacco Fiorentino is a local favorite with traditional food, open thursday to tuesday 10:00-2:45 & 7:00-9:45, closed wednesday, on Piazza XX Septtembre. Telephone: 0588-88537
  • For sandwiches & wine, go to Enoteca Scali, open daily 9:00am-10:00pm, on Via Guarnacci. Telephone: 0588-81170
  • For picnics, try Spar Market at Via Gramsci
  • Albergo Etruria In an ancient stone building, this hotel on Via Matteotti has 21 spacious & modern rooms. There's a TV lounge & rooftop garden. Single w/bathroom €70, Double w/bathroom €90, Triple w/bathroom €110. Telephone: 0588-87377 Fax: 0588-92784
  • Albergo Villa Nencini just outside of town, is big & modern with 36 rooms, a large pool, & free parking. Single w/bathroom €62, Double w/bathroom €81, Triple w/bathroom €112, on Borgo San Stefano, a 10 minute walk to the main square. Telephone: 0588-86386 Fax: 0588-80601
  • Albergo Nazionale has 38 big, clean, & simple rooms steps from the bus stop. Single w/bathroom €56, Double w/bathroom €81, Triple w/bathroom €112, cheaper off-season, on Via dei Marchesi. Telephone: 0588-86284 Fax: 0588-84097
  • Seminario Vescovile San Andrea A priest's school that rents 30 rooms. Single €14, Single w/bathroom €18, Double €28, Double w/bathroom €36, Triple €42, Triple w/bathroom €54. Breakfast €3, closed at midnight, groups welcome, on Via Vittorio Veneto. Telephone: 0588-86028

Get out

Bus connections go to Florence, Siena, & San Gimignano (4/day 2 hours, change in Colle Val d'Elsa, all same). There are also buses to Pisa (9/day 2 hours, change in Pontedera). Practically no buses in or out on sundays & holidays. All buses leave & arrive at Piazzi Martiri della Libertà, buy tickets at a Tabbachi shop. Tra-In bus tickets only get you to Colle Val d'Elsa, you'll need to buy tickets for another bus company at the newsstand near the bus stop there.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VOLTERRA (anc. Volaterrae), a town and episcopal see of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Pisa, from which it is 51 m. by rail S.E., and 35 by road W.N.W. from Siena. Pop. (1901) 5522 (town); 14,207 (commune). It stands on a commanding olive-clad eminence 1785 ft. above sea-level, with a magnificent view over mountains and sea (the latter some 20 m. distant), and is surrounded by the massive remains of its ancient walls of large, roughly-rectangular blocks of stone, some 42 m. in circuit, enclosing an area which must have been larger than was actually needed for habitation. Tombs of the pre-Etruscan or Villanova period have been found within its circuit, but only at the north-west extremity near S. Giusto. Here the clay of which the hill is formed is gradually giving way, causing landslips and the collapse of buildings, notably of the abbey church of S. Salvatore (1030). The medieval town occupies only the southern portion of this area. The most important relic of its Etruscan period is the Porta dell' Arco, an archway of dark greystone, about 20 ft. high, the corbels of which are adorned with almost obliterated heads, probably representing the guardian deities of the city. There are remains of baths and a cistern of Roman date. Volterra preserves its medieval character, having suffered little modification since the 16th century. The town contains many picturesque medieval towers and houses. The Palazzo dei Priori (1208-54), now the municipal palace, is especially fine, and the piazza in which it stands most picturesque. The museum contains a very valuable collection of Etruscan antiquities, especially cinerary urns from the ancient tombs N. and E. of the town. The urns themselves are of alabaster, with the figure of the deceased on the lid, and reliefs from Greek myths on the front. They belong to the 3rd-2nd centuries B.C. A tomb outside the town of the 6th century s.c., discovered in 1898, consisted of a round underground chamber, roofed with gradually projecting slabs of stone. The roof was supported in the centre by a massive square pillar (E. Petersen in Romische Mitteilungen, 1898, 409; cf. id. ibid., 1904, 244 for a similar one near Florence). There are also in the museum Romanesque sculptures from the old church of S. Giusto, &c. The cathedral, consecrated in 1120 (?), but enlarged and adorned by Niccolo Pisano (?) in 1254, has a fine pulpit of that period, and on the high altar are sculptures by Mino da Fiesole; it contains several good pictures - the best is an "Annunciation" by Luca Signorelli. The sacristy has fine carvings. The baptistery belongs to the 13th century; the font is by Andrea Sansovino, and the ciborium by Mino da Fiesole. Both these buildings are in black and white marble. S. Francesco has frescoes of 1410, and S. Girolamo terra-cottas and pictures. The citadel, now a house of correction, consists of two portions, the Rocca Vecchia, built in 1 343 by Walter de Brienne, duke of Athens, and the Rocca Nuova, built by the Florentines (1472). The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacture of vases and other ornaments from alabaster, of good quality, found in the vicinity. There are also in the neighbourhood rock-salt works and mines, as well as boracic acid works. This acid is exhaled in volcanic gas, which is passed through water tanks. The acid is deposited in the water and afterwards evaporated. It is sent to England, and used largely in the manufacture of pottery glaze.

Volaterrae (Etruscan Velathri) was one of the most powerful of the twelve confederate cities of Etruria. During the war between Marius and Sulla it withstood the latter's troops for two years in 82-80 B.C. As a result of its resistance Sulla carried a law for the confiscation of the land of those inhabitants of Volaterrae who had had the privileges of Roman citizenship. This, however, does not seem to have been carried out until Caesar as dictator divided some of the territory of Volaterrae among his veterans. Among its noble families the chief was that of the Caecinae, who took their, name from the river which runs close to Volaterrae and still retains the name Cecina. Cicero defended one of its members in an extant speech. It is included by Pliny among the municipal towns of Etruria. In the 12th and 13th centuries it enjoyed free institutions; in 1361 it fell under the power of Florence. It rebelled, but was retaken and pillaged in 1472. Persius the satirist and the painter Daniele da Volterra were both natives of the town. Several works of the latter are preserved there.

See C. Ricci, Volterra (Bergamo, 1905); E. Bormann in Corp. Inscr. Latin. xi. (Berlin, 1888), p. 324; G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London, 1883), ii. 136. (T. As.)

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|A view of Volterra.]]

Volterra is a city in the Tuscany region of Italy. The city is in the province of Pisa.



The city was a Neolithic settlement and an important Etruscan center. It became a "municipium" (a type of Roman city) in the Roman Age. Volterra was attacked and controlled by Florence many times. When the Florentian Republic fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family. It later became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Important monuments and places

File:Teatro di
The Roman Theatre.
  • Roman theatre (1st century BC), discovered in the 1950s.
  • Piazza dei Priori
  • Palazzo dei Priori
  • Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
  • Medicean Fortress (Maschio)
  • Guarnacci Etruscan Museum

The Medici Villa di Spedaletto is located outside the city in direction of Lajatico. Also near the city, in the Valle Bona area, are excavations of Etruscan tombs.

Sisters cities


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