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coat of arms
Volterra (Italy)
Country Italy
region Tuscany
province Pisa  (PI)
Coordinates 43 ° 24 '  N , 10 ° 52'  E Coordinates: 43 ° 24 '5 "  N , 10 ° 51' 40"  E
height 531  m slm
surface 252 km²
Residents 9,980 (Dec 31, 2019)
Population density 40 inhabitants / km²
Post Code 56048
prefix 0588
ISTAT number 050039
Popular name Volterrani
Patron saint SS.Giusto e Clemente (June 5th)
Website Volterra
Volterra, Italy.jpg

Volterra , Latin Volaterrae , is an Italian city ​​with 9980 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019) in the province of Pisa in the Tuscany region .


Volterra is about 50 kilometers south of Pisa and 30 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. With its spectacular landscape, the city is one of the most beautiful in Tuscany.

The core of today's city is secluded on a 550 m high ridge above the Cecina valley ( Val di Cecina ) in the midst of a barren, furrowed hilly landscape. The rock fragments and scree slopes are the product of centuries of erosion. The area of Le Balze in the north-west of Volterra gives an exemplary impression of this phenomenon.

The city is ruled by a Medici fortress , the Fortezza Medicea , which is now used as a state prison . Volterra is an alabaster processing center .

The districts ( Frazioni ) include Mazzolla, Montemiccioli, Saline di Volterra and Villamagna.

The neighboring municipalities are Casole d'Elsa ( SI ), Colle di Val d'Elsa (SI), Gambassi Terme ( FI ), Lajatico , Montaione (FI), Montecatini Val di Cecina , Peccioli , Pomarance and San Gimignano (SI).

View of Volterra from the southwest, August 2009


Volterra can look back on a long history. Already in the 4th century BC The place arose from the connection of several small Etruscan settlements, whose existence until the 7th century BC. Can be traced back to BC. At that time the Etruscans built a seven-kilometer-long curtain wall and named the now unified city Velathri .

Volterra was one of the oldest and largest of the twelve federal cities of Etruria . Later it was a Roman city with the rights of a municipality . Its high position made it a strong fortress, which Sulla in the first civil war only after two years of siege in 79 BC. Could take.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, Volterra was a republic; in the 14th century it fell to Florence.


Palazzo dei Priori , August 2009
Porta all'Arco

Architectural and artistic evidence of the various epochs bear witness to the city's varied existence and importance. However, some of the Etruscan necropolis and medieval church walls have fallen victim to erosion in the past.

  • In the main square of the city, the Piazza dei Priori , stands the oldest preserved communal palace in Tuscany, the Palazzo dei Priori .
  • The Porta all'Arco is the only gate of the Etruscan city wall that has been well preserved. It dates from the 4th century BC. In the outer arch three weathered heads can be seen, but their meaning is disputed.
  • Outside the medieval Porta Fiorentina is the Teatro Romano , built at the time of Emperor Augustus . From the grandstand for around 2000 people you can see the partially reconstructed stage wall. The thermal baths below the theater date from a later time.
  • Other historical public buildings are the cathedral Santa Maria Assunta from the early 12th century with a coffered ceiling and granite-like stucco cladding of the columns as well as a number of artistically high-quality furnishings; the octagonal baptistery with a font by Andrea Sansovino ; the Palazzo Pretorio , which dates back to private palaces and residential towers from the 12th and 13th centuries, and the Torre del Porcellino , which serves as a prison ; and finally the Palazzo Incontri-Viti, one of the most magnificent buildings in Volterra . Among the churches are the late Romanesque S. Michele and the churches of S. Francesco , S. Lino and S. Girolamo with pictures and sculptures from the school of Florence.


View of the Roman theater and the thermal baths of Volterra, August 2009

Of particular importance is the archaeological Museo Etrusco Guarnacci in the Palazzo Desideri Tangassi. Mario Guarnacci (1701–1785), a versatile scholar, devoted his studies to ancient history. He was able to collect a considerable amount of evidence about the Etruscan civilization through purchases and excavations.

A significant part of the collection includes ash urns as well as pieces made of bronze and ceramics. The urns are made of tufa, alabaster and clay. One of the most famous of all of Etruria is the Urna degli Sposi (Eng. Urn of the bride and groom ), on the lid of which a couple is depicted lying at the feast.

The most important piece in the collection, however, is the bronze figure Ombra della sera (English evening shadow ). Over time it has become an “icon” for the museum and the city of Volterra. It owes its fame mainly to its unique shape, which is said to have reminded the Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio of the shadow of a human figure in the evening sun. It is a masterpiece of Etruscan bronze casters from the Hellenistic period. Another important exhibit is the stele of Avile Tite from the 6th century BC. Chr.

Other exhibits include various mosaic floors from the Roman Empire, which come from Volterra and Segalari. There is also a coin collection with rare Etruscan coins made of gold, silver and bronze. Finally, Etruscan and Roman jewelry adorned with precious stones can be seen.

Important is the collection of the "Pinacoteca", housed in the Minucci-Solaini Palace since 1982, with the famous Descent of the Cross (1521), the masterpiece of the painter Rosso Fiorentino , and the most important works by Taddeo di Bartolo , Domenico Ghirlandaio and Luca Signorelli , which are the artistic Illustrate influences from Pisa, Florence and Siena.

In April 2003 the Ecomuseo dell'Alabastro was opened in the tower house of the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini , in which the history of the extraction and processing of alabaster from ancient times to the present is presented.


Volterra was made accessible from 1912 to 1958 by the Saline di Volterra – Volterra cog railway .

Town twinning

Volterra is partnered with:

Mende in the French region of Occitania (since 1992)


Volterra in literature

  • Volterra is an important city in Stephenie Meyer's " Bite " series. There Volterra is the hometown of the Volturi, a royal vampire family. The Volturi allegedly live in the center of the city and have secretly ruled it for 3000 years. According to the book, the city celebrates a festival every year on St. Mark's Day (April 25, see also St. Mark's Day ). According to legend, 1500 years ago a Christian missionary named Father Marcus - a Volturi - drove all the vampires out of Volterra. Since then, the city has not been plagued by vampires, as the Volturi are successfully hiding. This festival plays a role in the 2nd part of the "Biss" series, Until (s) at noon .
  • Volterra also plays a role in the series of novels written by Dudley Pope about the British naval officer Nicolas Ramage . In the first volume, he saves the Marchesa of Volterra from the French occupation forces during the Napoleonic Wars . He falls in love with her and her rule over Volterra plays an important role in the subsequent volumes. Her nephew, Paolo Orsini, next in line of succession in the reign, also appears in most novels, as he sails as an ensign under Ramage's command.


Web links

Commons : Volterra  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.
  2. Volterra Statute , Article 1.