It’s not possible speaking about Volterra: it’s necessary see it! Volterra challenges the time.
Since the Bronze Age has always been present on the historical and artistic Italian context. Volterra offers visitors the pleasure of discovery: from the Etruscans to the Romans, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance … Just walking in its streets to breathe its history, visiting the museums to see it through the objects, going into the shops to relive it through the ancient mysteries and flavors.
Principal monuments of Volterra
It’s the most famous and oldest door included in the perimeter of Etruscan walls (V sec. BC).
The construction of this door seems to belong at three different times.
The sides, formed by huge rectangular blocks as the walls, and at these contemporaries, are of IV-III centuries BC; the arches, in tuff, 6 meters high, seem a reconstruction made after the siege of Silla (80-82 BC); on the contrary, the meaning of the three heads placed on the exterior decoration is uncertain, so that there are different assumptions about this : they can evoke the sacrifices of lives with the aim to preserve new construction, or something that remember the custom of hang at the door the cut heads of the vanquished enemies, or they could represent the Capitoline Triad Jupiter Juno and Minerva.
The interiors of the Church maintain the classical shape both in structure and plant, whith a Latin cross and three naves, but offers a late-Renaissance appearance.
The space is divided from twenty-two columns covered with stucco simulant pink granite, result of the restoration of 1842-1843, while the capitals in white stucco made in the sixteenth century are by Leonardo Ricciarelli. The middle nave and transept are covered with a magnificent coffered ceiling, beautiful set of geometric elements, decorative flowers and figures of saints.
In 1584 the pulpit was reassembled with elements of the twelfth century. The main altar houses the elegant ciborium by Mino da Fiesole (1471). At sides, above two columns of the twelfth century, are placed two angels of the same artist. Behind there is the chapel or choir, whose stalls in Gothic style, were made by the Sienese masters at the end of the fourteenth century.
To the left is the chapel where are preserved the remains of Sant’Ugo, bishop of Volterra, in the twelfth century. To the side of the right transept ther is the chapel of the Sacrament, decorated with stucchi by Leonardo Ricciarelli and paintings by Santi di Tito, Giovanni Balducci and Agostino Veracini, while at the side of the left transept you find the chapel dedicated to St. Paul, adorned with valuable marbles.
Palazzo dei Priori
“Piazza dei Priori” is the political heart of the medieval city, a meeting point of contemporary urban life and the oldest town hall in Tuscany.
The work of the palace of Volterra began at the end of the first decade of the thirteenth century and went rather slowly. Probably one of the first part – the ground floor and part of the first floor – was already completed and used in 1234, but the completion of the building was only in 1257, as an epigraph in hexameters commemorates. From this we know also that the completion was the work of the master Riccardo from Como.
The first stone was laid for the will of Pannocchieschi Ildebrando, Palatine Count of the Empire, in 1208 even if the citizens had to wait almost fifty years before they saw it finished.
The original facade had to be very different from the present one. Surely there wasn’t the clock. The original tower was made of wood, while the present tower dates back to just after the earthquake of 1846. The battlements was not present and also the arches of the first floor (remade in Florentine style) would be different from those of the second and third floor (in the Romanesque style).
Obviously on the ground floor there weren’t the various coats of arms of the Florentine commissioners who ruled from 1400. There were two other doors to the right of the existing one and a balcony from where the Podestà talked to the people.
Walking through the city you can admire many others monuments and historical palaces such as the Palazzo Minacci Solaini in Renaissance style and the Palazzo Maffei of the sixteenth century.