Volterra, Italy 360° Travel Guide  Map View

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Piazza Martiri della Liberta Albergo Nazionale Duomo Duomo
Piazza Martiri della Liberta Albergo Nazionale Duomo Duomo

The best starting point for visiting Volterra is to drive up to Piazza Martiri della Liberta, where there is a carefully concealed underground car park, and take in the stunning views of the (mostly 13th century) city walls and surrounding countryside. Nearby is the privately owned Albergo Nazionale where there are literally some "rooms with a view". A short walk away is the originally Romanesque Cattedrale of Santa Maria Assunta (Volterra's Duomo) originally built in 7th and 8th centuries and enlarged in Pisan style in the 13th century. Its interior was restructured in the 16th century.

Duomo & Battistero Battistero di S.Giovanni Piazza dei Priori
Duomo & Battistero Battistero di S.Giovanni Piazza dei Priori

The 13th century octagonal Battistero di S.Giovanni in front of the Cathedral is a charming place for gentle reflection and includes sculptures and two baptismal fonts; in the centre one of 1760 by Vaccà John and another from 1502 with five faces of Christ. A short distance away is Volterra's grand Piazza dei Priori (1208-54) with the Palazzo dei Priori which includes a gallery with works from the 14th to 17th century. Opposite is the Palazzo Pretoria (1230) was the seat of the podestà (captain of the people) and has a tower known as the Tower of the Little Pig the reason obvious once you see it! for at the top of the tower there is a stone animal poised on a shelf. There are a number of other impressive palazzi around the piazza.

Palazzo Viti Palazzo Viti Teatro Romana Teatro Romana
Palazzo Viti Palazzo Viti Teatro Romana Teatro Romana

In Via Dei Sarti is the privately owned Palazzo Incontri Viti a 16th century nobleman's residence purchased by Benedetto Giuseppe Viti, an alabaster merchant and extensive traveller in 1850. It is open to the public and has a number of beautifully furnished sala (rooms). Volterra's Roman history is evidenced by the 3rd century Roman baths and the 1st century BC Teatro Romana which was excavated in the 1950's on a site below the city. It is now used for music concerts and poetry readings.

Acropolis Parco Archeologico Porta Selci
Acropolis Parco Archeologico Porta Selci

However Volterra's history predates Roman times. At a highpoint in the city the ancient Acropolis with 2nd century BC temples was discovered in 1926 and lies within the Parco Archeologico overlooking the Fortezza Medicea now a prison, so no pictures there I suggest. The Museo Etrusco Guarnacci (1761) on Via Don Minzoni is one of the earliest public museums in Europe and has Etruscan objects from sites near Volterra including lids for funeral urns. The 16th century Porta Selci one of Volterra's six city gates adjoins the Rocca Vecchio (Old castle) part of the Fortezza.