Adorable View of Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
Volterra, Italy, is among the most spectacular hill towns in Tuscany. Famous for the extraction and processing of alabaster, the beautiful, walled town was established around the 7th century BC by the Etruscans and it is said to have been continuously inhabited since that time.
If you are a serious Twilight Saga fan, the name Volterra probably sounds familiar to you, and you might want to take a Twilight tour of the city or buy a Twilight themed souvenir in the visitors center.
What you may not know is that the Volterra scenes from the New Moon movie weren’t shot in Volterra but in nearby Montepulciano!
Volterra is full of history and it retains many traces of its interesting Etruscan, Medieval and Renaissance past. However, the charm of Volterra doesn’t lie in its historical heritage only but in the serene olive tree orchards, the pleasing countryside that surrounds it, the laid-back lifestyle and the old tradition of alabaster carving.
Here are a few attractions that only Volterra can offer.
Discover the Age-Old Art Of Alabaster
In Volterra the craft of alabaster began when Etruscan craftsmen carved it to make urns for the ashes of their dead. The Guarnacci Etruscan Museum features an important collection of beautifully ornate funerary urns, terracotta statues, coins and many other artifacts unique to Volterra, Italy.
The craft of alabaster has been kept to this day and in the historic center of Volterra, Tuscany, you can still find traditional workshops covered in white dust that produce beautiful figurines, bowls, boxes and picture frames, all handcrafted and available in the numerous shops in Volterra.
The Ecomuseo dell’Alabastro, next to the Pinacoteca, displays the history and culture of this unique artistic craft.
The Evocative Architecture of Volterra
There are several buildings that showcase the town’s rich historical and spiritual past that you’ll want to experience first-hand.
The Roman Theater of Volterra is one of the best preserved Roman theaters in Italy. It dates back to the 1st century BC and it was discovered in the 1950s during some excavation works. In summer the Teatro Romano di Volterra houses the prestigious International Roman Theater Festival.
In Piazza dei Priori the Palazzo dei Priori that dominates the Medieval main square is now the Town Hall. It was built in the 13th century, but the tower was rebuilt in stone in the 19th century after an earthquake destroyed the previous wooden bell tower. If you are in Volterra during the winter months don’t miss the Saturday market in Piazza dei Priori.
Another artistic jewel is the Cathedral of Volterra —Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta— and the Baptistery of San Giovanni. And if you choose to walk alongside the ancient city wall, apart from enjoying the kind Tuscan landscape that surrounds Volterra, you’ll come across the amazingly well-preserved Porta dell’Arco of Etruscan origin that was built in the 4th century BC.
The Imposing Medici Fortress
The Fortezza Medicea rises on the highest point of the hill that overlooks Volterra and dominates the whole town.
Nowadays the fortress is a maximum security prison and visits are restricted to some buildings and a few days a week. There is an exception though, and this is a restaurant operated by the inmates. They are supervised by armed guards, and the cutlery is plastic but the prisoners manage everything.
In 2005 the prison started a rehabilitation project to prepare the inmates to reintegrate in society. If you want to brag about a truly different foodie experience, this is your chance. However, getting a reservation isn’t easy, you have to apply two months in advance for a background check.
Check out the Pictures of Volterra, Italy
If you want to have a preview of the attractions you are going to see during your visit, have a look at our gallery of photos by clicking the button below. The collection will surely convince you that Volterra, Italy, might be the perfect vacation destination for you.