Situated on a tall hill, Volterra is one of the oldest towns in Tuscany
Volterra, a romantic city that offers visitors a glimpse of its typically medieval character, is full of squares, palaces (palazzi) and towers with a romantic movie-like feel.

Volterra, cathedral
Within the streets and alleys of its fourteenth century historical center, you’ll find Medieval and Renaissance palaces, Romantic churches and museums hosting Etruscan ruins. Full of underground tunnels and secret passageways, Volterra has always been influenced by the Legend of the Volturi, which has been passed down over generations.
Those who wish to visit the town on foot won’t be disappointed. From Porta di San Francesco, one of the few arches that still has its noteworthy frescoes intact, you can stroll down the Via Franceschini until you reach Piazza dei Priori.

As the spiritual heart of the city, it hosts Palazzo dei Priori, an imposing architectural gem from the Commune period.
Piazza dei Priori, Volterra
Piazza del Battistero
Palazzo dei Priori is the oldest “city hall” in Tuscany, the site for local bureaucratic and administrative activities. It was constructed in the 13th century, it was the residence of the Captain of the People and it also hosted a number of civic functions. This piazza is near Piazza del Battistero, the religious centre of Volterra. This closeness between the civic and religious centres was the symbol of the power of Volterra over the surrounding territory. The piazza is the site of numerous cultural activities and in the summer period there is a weekly market.

Porta all'Arco
Next, walk along Vicolo Mazzoni, between Piazza dei Priori and Via Porta all'Arco.

Don’t miss a visit to Porta all’Arco, the only Etruscan portal that’s part of the city’s ancient walls.

Finally, in Via dei Sarti, you’ll find Palazzo Viti, which is characterized by its elegant, ornately decorated rooms. This is one of Italy's most beautiful private residences. The rooms have been kept in their original appearance and can be visited as a museum. It is highly recommended to visit this Palazzo.

The Roman Theatre is located in the Vallebuona archaeological area, near Volterra’s medieval walls. Systematic excavation began in 1950 under the guidance of Enrico Fiumi. The theatre has been shown to date from the 1st century BC. Still visible are nineteen rows of seats built on a natural slope in the central and lower sectors and the semicircular orchestra which was originally faced with marble. All that is left of the stage are the Pulpitum and a part of the structures and marble columns of the ‘frons scenae’. In a later period, when the building was being used for a different purpose, a thermal baths was added in the area of the portico.

Alabaster has been crafted in Volterra since the Etruscan era and has come to represent the culture and history of the city itself.  ‘Alabaster’ is an Egyptian term which probably comes from the city of Albastron. In ancient times, vases and amphorae for holding perfumes were made there.

The kind of alabaster that is carved and sculpted in Volterra today is mined from beneath the town of Castellina Marittima. It was formed thousands of years ago thanks to a process of sedimentation of calcium sulphate concentrates. Alabaster is a soft stone, much easier to work than marble for example, which is much harder. This malleability makes it perfect for carving small scale sculptures and richly detailed ornamental motifs. Historically, in fact, it was often used to carve the human face.
More than two thousand years have passed since the Etruscans first began carving alabaster but it is still crafted today in the city of Volterra. Although it doesn’t represent a significant part of the local economy anymore, it is nonetheless a fundamental part of the city’s culture. Only a few real workshops are left in the old town centre but it is those artisans who are not only carrying on this ancient craft but who are also making it increasingly popular again.

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