What to see in Volterra Tuscany - The Best Sights in 2019
Volterra, a medieval town in Tuscany
Volterra, the walled hill town in Tuscany, is a must visit when you are in the region. If you’ve visited the cities Lucca or Florence you may even appreciate the medieval town Volterra more because of its authentic feel. This charming city dates back from before the 7th century BC and you will thus still see traces of the old Etruscan city it once was. From the 4th century up until the 6th century BC Volterra was one of the 12 major centers in Tuscany. Besides Etruscan remains you’ll also see clear traces and even structures from Roman and Medieval periods. The etruscan walls that were built to protect the city, although finished through the Middle Ages, are one of those traces that you’ll notice on your visit to the town.
The city used to attract a lot of fans of the Twilight series movies, while the movies were actually shot in Montepulciano - a nearby town around 100 km away. The site is not overwhelmed with too many tourists and is therefore a pleasant and quiet visit for a day. It is in fact far less visited than cities such as San Gimignano or Pisa. The city is only 80 kilometers away from our Camping in Tuscany in Lamporecchio and is definitely worth the visit. Read our guide to learn about the top sights to see in Volterra during a one day visit.
Visit the Volterra Cathedral, the Duomo
The Cathedral of Volterra, also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta or the Duomo of Volterra is a must visit when visiting the medieval town. Documents reveal that the cathedral was destructed in 1117 due to an earthquake that destroyed most of the town. It was rebuilt, and consecrated by Pope Calixtus II in 1120.
The cathedral is special because of its mix in style and architecture. It got further reconstructed during the 13th century and got a touch of Romanesque architecture. The impressively decorated Renaissance ceiling and frescoed chapels will leave you speechless. During the 19th century the walls of the interior were painted with stripes, leaving the marks of typical Tuscan church decorative styles.
Besides its rich architecture, the cathedral is also home to many famous works of art from artists such as Cosimo Daddi, Francesco Curradi, Andrea della Robbia, and many more.
Visit the Roman Theatre of Volterra
The Roman Theatre gives you a true taste of Roman history, without having to visit Rome itself. This ancient heritage site is really well preserved and is located in the Vallebuona archaeological area, near the medieval walls of the town. The Roman Theatre got excavated in 1950 under the supervision of Enrico Fiumi, and turned out to be from the 1st century BC.
Today you can see the nineteen rows of seats built on a natural slope. The stage only shows the Pulpitum and a part of the structures and the marble columns of the ‘frons scenae’. There are also thermal baths that were added after 1st century BC when the structure was being used for a different purpose.
The Etruscan Acropolis is part of the Archeological Park of Enrico Fiumi and lies at the top of the hill at the end of the park. The area is full with remains of buildings from various periods, from Etruscan to Roman and Medieval. There are traces of a cistern water system which includes a Augustean pool, and two temple-like buildings which are identified as A and B.
Open: from March through mid-November, 10:30 to 17:30
During winter from 10:00 to 16:00.
Price: full ticket € 5, reduced ticket € 3
Palazzo dei Priori and Piazza dei Priori
The Piazza dei Priori is what makes Volterra probably so famous among Twilight fans. The medieval streets, the central piazza, the narrow corners, and the medieval building style will make you want to book a ticket to Tuscany immediately.
The Palazzo dei Priori is the oldest town hall in Tuscany and sits tall over the square together with the Palazzo Pretorio. One of the towers of the Palazzo dei Priori was destroyed during an earthquake, but got rebuilt during the 19th century. The tower of the Palazzo Pretorio on the other hand is famous for the little piglet at the top. Because of the little piglet the tower is also known among italians as the Torre del Porcellino. Make sure to look out for the wild boar, or little piglet on top!
Open: from March through mid-November, 09:00 to 19:00
From November through October 10:00 - 16:30
Price: The Piazza dei Priori is partially free to visit.
The full ticket price is € 5, the reduced ticket price is € 3
The Etruscan Museum “Mario Guarnacci”
The origins of the Etruscan Museum date back to 1761 when Mario Guarnacci displayed an archeological collection to the public in Palazzo Maffei. When Guarnacci passed away his rich collection passed onto the population of Volterra. It can now be admired in the Palazzo Desideri Tangassi.
The items in the collection span from prehistoric, archaic and classical age to the Hellenistic period. The museum houses over 600 urns and are divided based on the subject of the bas-reliefs of the chest: think about greek mythology, demons, images of the person who passed, etcetera.
The birth of the collection in reality started with Pietro Franceschini, who donated a collection of funeral urns. Together with Mario Guarnacci’s donation of funeral urns, other artifacts such as the bronze statuette “Shadow of the Night”, and a library of over 50.000 books make the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum definitely worth the visit.
Open: from March through October, 09:00 to 19:00
From November through February, 10:00 - 16:30
Price: The full ticket price is € 8, the reduced ticket price is € 6
Are you Ready to visit Volterra?
A city fun to visit for young and old, a city where you can go to an Art Gallery, have good food, and walk through the narrow medieval streets. Admire the famous porta all'arco, and let yourself be taken back in time. What are you waiting for? Visit Volterra.