From Etruscans to Romans to alabaster of the present day
Volterra, etruscan town in province of Pisa
Volterra is situated in the province of Pisa and lies between the valley of Era and Cecina. Built on a hilly pliocene ridge 545 metres a.s.l. surrounded by two defensive walls, one Etruscan and the other Medieval, it is one of the most important centres of Tuscany, for its monuments which testify 3,000 years of civilisation and for its traditional craftsmanship in alabaster whose products are one of Italy's leading crafts.
Volterra is not yet touched by the stress of contemporary life and visitors who come to Volterra have the immediate impression of stepping into the past, of being in a particular place with its narrow Medieval streets and the enigma of its Etruscan origins.
Volterra is prevalently Medieval and yet cherishes abundant evidence of the Etruscan period: the Porta all'Arco (the Etruscan gate) which date from the 4th century B.C., the Acropolis, the defensive walls which are still visible in parts of the town.
The Roman period is attested by the important remains of the Teatro di Vallebona which date back to the Augustan period, the Baths and an enormous rectangular water cistern.
The Middle Ages are not only visible in its urban structure but in its buildings too, its house-towers and churches: the Palazzo dei Priori, a 13th century building, the Palazzo Pretorio, with its crenellated Tower of the Little Pig, the pair of towers of Buonparenti and Bonaguidi family, the house-towers of Toscano family, the Cathedral (12th century), the Baptistry (13th century) streaked with Volterran stone, the conventual Church of San Francesco with its adjacent chapel of the Croce di Giorno, the Church of San Michele) and of San Alessandro.
Apart from its monuments, its art and history, Volterra also offers a magnificent view of the gentle undulating hills of the surrounding landscape abruptly interrupted in the West by the Balze (crags).