Abbadia San Salvatore

Abbey of Sant'Antimo




Archipelago Toscano




Badia di Coltibuono

Bagni San Filippo

Bagno Vignoni

Barberino Val d'Elsa


Bolsena Lake


Brunello di Montalcino




Castel del Piano



Castellina in Chianti


Castelnuovo Bererdenga

Castiglioncello Bandini

Castiglione della Pescaia

Castiglione d'Orcia

Castiglion Fiorentino



Chinaciano Terme




Città di Castello

CivitÀ di Bagnoregio

Colle Val d'Elsa


Crete Senesi

Diaccia Botrona

Isola d'Elba



Gaiole in Chianti



Greve in Chianti


Lago Trasimeno

La Foce



Massa Marittima

Montagnola Senese


Monte Amiata

Monte Argentario





Monte Oliveto Maggiore








Parco Naturale della Maremma







Radda in Chianti



San Bruzio

San Casciano dei Bagni

San Galgano

San Gimignano

San Giovanni d'Asso

San Quirico d'Orcia


Santa Fiora














Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Torrita di Siena




Val d'Elsa

Val di Merse

Val d'Orcia

Valle d'Ombrone




Walking in Tuscany

N L       I T

Volterra [1]

album Surroundings



In the heart of the town, Piazza dei Priori represents one of the most harmonious and scenic medieval piazzas of Tuscany. The south-west side of the square is dominated by the Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest Town Hall (or Palazzo Comunale) in Italy, built between 1208 and 1257.

The Duomo (closed over the lunch hour) is behind the Palazzo dei Priori.
The Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) in Palazzo Minucci-Solaini was founded in 1905 and consists mostly of works by Tuscan artists from 14th to 17th centuries. The Art Gallery ncludes a Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino.

It is enriched by elegant two-light windows, numerous coats of arms and maiolicas belonging to Florentine families.
The Duomo, a 12th century Romanesque building, is characterised by a nice portal, big rose window and a richly decorated interior.

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Volterra, a view on the Citadel, 1988, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

Camille Corot, was a French painter, noted primarily for his landscapes, who inspired and to some extent anticipated the landscape painting of the Impressionists.

In the autumn of 1825 Corot went to Rome, and the three years that he spent there were the most influential of his life. He painted the city and the Campagna, the countryside around Rome; he made a trip to Naples and Ischia; and he returned to Paris by way of Venice. He was very happy. He told a friend in August 1826: “All I really want to do in life…is to paint landscapes. This firm resolve will stop me forming any serious attachments. That is to say, I shall not get married.” He was as good as his word and never married. Romantic companionship played no part in his life, which was entirely devoted to painting.
Back in France, Corot settled into a routine to which he kept for the whole of his life. He always spent the spring and summer months painting outside, making small oil sketches and drawings from nature. He acquired a mastery of tonal relationships that formed the basis of his art, for the balance and gradation of light and dark tones was always more important to him than the choice of colour. In the winter Corot would retire to his Paris studio to work on some much larger pictures, which he liked to have ready for exhibition at the annual Salon when it opened in May. (…) From May to October of 1834 Corot made his second visit to Italy. He painted views of Volterra, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, Venice, and the Italian lake district. He collected enough material in small sketches to last him the rest of his life, although he returned to Italy briefly in the summer of 1843, for the last time.[2]

The Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta


Volterra, The Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

Volterra, the Duomo or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta


The church we see now was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1117 that destroyed most of the town, and consecrated by Pope Calixtus II in 1120. Nicola Pisani is said to have been involved in reconstruction in the mid 13th century. The rustic stone facade was built in a Romanesque style and utilizes spolia from the Roman theater of Volterra in the portal. The intarsia over the door is attributed to Nicola Pisano[1] This was not the original Cathedral of Volterra. A prior one, dedicated to San Pietro, and located next the Bishopric was destroyed by the Florentines during a siege in 1472. Reconstructions and alterations of this church occurred over the centuries.
In 1580, bishop Guido Serguidi, with approval of the then Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decorated the intricately coffered ceiling of the nave and crossings, designed by Francesco Capriani, carved by Jacopo Pavolini, and gilded by Fulvo della Tuccia. The ceiling has sculpted reliefs with Saints Ugo, Giusto, Pope Linus, Clemente, Attinea, and Greciniana, with a symbol of the Holy Ghost in the center. The belltower from 1493 replaced an older tower.


The elongated nave and interior space form a Latin cross. The nave spans 22 columns decorated with stucco simulating rose-colored granite. Much of the interior was restored in 1842-1843. The stucco capitals were completed in the 16th century by Giovanni Paolo Rossetti and Leonardo Ricciarelli. In the 19th century, the walls of the interior were painted in stripes that suggest typical Tuscan decorative church architecture. The floor has tiles of alternating dark and white marble.
The Pulpit has three reliefs of Last Supper, Annunciation, and Sacrifice of Isaac and the lions at the base of the columns are undoubtedly 12th century works of the Gugliemo school, perhaps carved by the Pisan sculptor Bonamico. Other elements and the alabaster intarsia were added in 1584, when a prior balustrade was dismantled and the pulpit was reconstructed.
To the left of the entrance is the funeral monument of Franceso Gaetano Incontri, former archbishop of Florence. The monument was erected in 1840, with a bust by Arisdemo Costoli and decoration by Mariano Falcini. Below the monument, are eight marble intarsia panels, originally part of a 12th-century Tuscan balustrade.

The main altar, mainly dating from 19th century, has a marble ciborium with flanking angels (1471) by Mino da Fiesole. The choir stalls were completed in the 14th century. In the ceiling of the crossing is an God the Father and Stories of the Life of the Virgin (1585) above the choir by Niccolò Circignani.


In the first chapel, that of Saint Ottaviano, the relics of this saint are kept in a marble sarcophagus to right of the altar, sculpted by Raffaello di Andrea Cioli. It was commissioned in 1522 to thank the saint for his intervention to stop a sweep of the plague; the angel candle holders depicting angels are by Andrea Ferrucci.

To the left is the chapel commissioned by Ludovico Incontri in 1645. Its marble sarcophagus holds the remains of St Ugo dei Saladini, a 12th-century bishop of Volterra.
The next Chapel is called Chapel of the Madonna of dei Chierici, referring to a wooden icon of the Madonna, donated by Jacopo di Ciglio, known as il Barbialla, and carved by Francesco di Valdambrino (early 15th century).
From the left transept, one can enter the chapel of Saint Paul, commissioned by the Inghirami family. It was built for Admiral Jacob Inghirami, and designed by Alessandro Pieroni. The admiral, in a scene with the Baptistery of Volterra, appears in conversation in the Procession to Damascus lunette above the altar. Giovanni Mannozzi (Giovanni di San Giovanni) painted the frescoes on the Life of Saint Paul on the ceiling. On the walls, are paintngs of The Mission of St. Paul in Damascus by Matteo Rosselli and the Beheading of St. Paul (1623) by Domenichino. Above the door to the rectory a canvas of The Immaculate Conception with Saints by Cosimo Daddi. Other artists that contributed to the decoration include Gherardo Silvani, Giovanni Caccini, and Francesco Curradi.
Along the left of the nave is the chapel of St. Sebastian with a painting by Francesco Cunegi of the Martydom of St Sebastian (1587).
The church contains the funeral monument of the humanist bishop Mario Maffei. The prelate dressed in his finery in a dormant pose on the sarcophagus was executed by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, one of Michelangelo’s assistants.
The Oratory of the Virgin Mary (Cappella dell'Addolorata) contains a fresco of the Nativity with a Journey of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli on the left and an Epiphany on the right. Terracotta painted figures, of almost natural size, have recently been attributed to Giovanni della Robbia.
The Chapel of the Holiest Name of Jesus has an architectural 16th century frame preserves the monogram of Christ donated to Volterra by San Bernardino of Siena encased in a precious silver 18th-century shrine. It also contains an Annunciation (1497) by Fra Bartolomeo della Porta.
The Chapel of Verani contains an Immaculate Conception (1586) painted by Niccolò Circignani. The Chapel of the Annunciation contains an Annunciation by Albertinelli in collaboration with Fra Bartolomeo who painted the angel in the canvas in 1497.
The first chapel (Giorgi Chapel) to the right of the entrance, has an altarpiece by Pieter de Witte, depicting Offering of Volterra to Virgin and Saints (1587) commissioned by the Captain Francesco del Bovino of the Giorgi family who appears in the left-hand corner of painting. The second chapel to the right (Collaini Chapel) has a Birth of the Virgin (1618) by Francesco Curradi. The third chapel to the right (Perissi Chapel) Presentation in the Temple of the Virgin (1590) by Gianbattista Naldini.
Over the door of the chapel of San Carlo is a painting of Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saints John, Anthony Abbot, Francis and Augustine 1611) painted by Curradi. Above the altar is a canvas of the Ecstasy of St Carlo Borromeo before Virgin by Jacopo Chimenti. On the side walls Saint Mary Magdelan of Scolaro by Guido Reni and an Immaculate Conception by Francesco Brini.
From the right transept, one can enter the Serguidi chapel (1595), previously the Chapel of the Holiest Sacrament, or of the Miracles, whose design is attributed to Vasari was decorated in stucco by Ricciarelli and painted by Giovanni Balducci. Cost for the decoration was above ten thousand ducats. Above the altar, a wood panel of the Resurrection of Lazarus (1592) by Santi di Tito. On the side walls, two canvas paintings also by Balducci: Expulsion of the Non-believers from the temple and Parable of the Loaves and Fishes (1591). Balducci also painted the frescoes in the ceiling and flanking the altar. Agostino Veracini painted the Patron Saints of Volterra (1741) featured on the walls. The altar has relics of Saints Attinia and Greciana.
The Chapel of the Deposition has a group of five wooden polychrome figures representing the Deposition of Christ executed in 1228 by an unknown Volterran artist.

The rectory stalls are the work of Francesco del Tonghio and Adreoccio di Bartolomeo, while the 15th century fine intarsia found on the bishop’s throne and the chaplain benches are the work of unknown Tuscan masters.

The Duomo
: Via Roma, 13, Volterra Pisa, Italië

Opening hours
8am-12.30pm & 3-6pm Sat-Thu, 4-6pm Fri

The Pinacoteca and Civic Museum of Palazzo Minucci Solaini

Benozzo Gozoli, Corteo dei Magi con robbiana, Duomo, Volterra

'Vasari, well-known author of the artist’s biographies, points out that Benozzo produced some works in the city of Volterra of which, even in his day, only a small frescoed niche in the Chapel of the Virgin in the Cathedral remained. The subject depicted was the Procession of the Magi, reminiscent of the best-known procession painted by the artist in the Medici Palace in Florence in 1459. This fresco served as the backdrop for a group of terracotta sculptures, attributed to Andrea della Robbia, portraying the Adoration of the Magi, which must have completed the narration of the episode painted by Gozzoli. The sculptures are currently housed in a tabernacle in the same chapel, and have been replaced by another group representing the nativity scene, also sculpted by Andrea della Robbia.' [Serena Nocentini][]


Since 1982, the museum has been located in Palazzo Minucci Solaini, a private 15th-century residence. The palazzo houses an extroadinary collection of local paintings and sculptures.

The origins of the Volterra Pinacoteca or Art Gallery date back to 1842 when Luigi Fedra Inghirami, who worked in the cathedral, began to collect works of art from various disused churches and monasteries of the city. He gathered the work in the chapel of San Carlo which adjoins the cathedral.
In 1905, following a proposal by Corrado Ricci, a municipal art gallery was arranged on the second floor of the Palazzo dei Priori. The more significant works of art from the chapel of San Carlo were exhibited along with other pieces belonging to the city council and to various other institutions of Volterra.
Since 1982 the Art Gallery is housed in the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini, a splendid example of late 15th century architecture traditionally attributed to Antonio Sangallo the Elder.
Today the Pinacoteca, which represents the most important section of the collection, is complemented by the Municipal Museum.

The scope of the latter is to conserve and exhibit important works of art belonging to institutions which are no longer able to provide adequate care. The Deposition by Rosso Fiorentino is the most significant work from the collection. Other important works in the collection are paintings by Taddeo di Bartolo, Alvaro Pirez and Cenni di Francesco, the Pietà by Francesco Neri of Volterra, a predella of the story of the Virgin by Benvenuto di Giovanni, two wooden sculptures by Francesco di Valdambrino, an altar piece of Christ in Glory by Domenico Ghirlandaio and the Holy Conversation and the Annunciation by Luca Signorelli from Cortona. There is also a noteworthy collection of medieval sculpture and ceramics, of medals (especially the Medici collection) and of coins.
The Art Gallery organizes conferences, seminars and temporary exhibitions in collaboration with other institutions, with particular attention to the city’s cultural heritage. Didactic activity aimed in particular at schools, offers guided tours of the museum for students at every level.

Pinacoteca en Museo Civico, , Via dei Sarti 1
Opening hours: daily except 01.01 and 25.12


Open every day except 01/01 and 25/12
From March 16 to November 1: 09:00 am / 07:00 pm
From November 2 to March 15: 10:00 am / 04:30 pm

Palazzo dei Priori

Rosso Fiorentino, Deposition, 1521, oil on wood. Pinacoteca Comunale di Volterra
The Palazzo dei Priori was built in the 13th century and is one of the most ancient City Halls or "Palazzo Comunale" of Tuscany.
The Council Chamber (Sala del Consiglio Comunale), on the first floor up two steep flights of steps, can be visited between 10.30 and 17.30 (modest charge). There is a rather damaged 14th century fresco of the Annunciation on the end wall. n the next room, on the left wall, there is a bit of detached fresco with a rather beautiful painting by Luca Signorelli 1441-1523) of St Jerome.


Guarnacci Etruscan museum


Palazzo Priori, Volterra


The Guarnacci Etruscan museum has important displays of pre-historic, Roman and Etruscan artifacts. The main body of the museum houses many fine objects from the Etruscan period discovered in the Volterra region. The pride of the Guarnacci Museum is its collection of 600 Etruscan funerary.
The suggestive actuality of the elongated form of the Ombra della Sera (Shadow of the evening), or the disturbing expression on the faces of the ageing couple figured on the Urna degli sposi (Urn of the married couple) are reason enough to visit the Guarnacci museum, one of the earliest public museums in Europe.
Ombra della sera' is a bronze statuette from the old Etruscan city of Velathri n the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum.
The title Ombra della sera, comes from the 19th-Century Italian poet and journalist Gabriele d'Annunzio. It seems that D'Annunzio thought the statue looked like the long shadows thrown by a man at sunset — thus 'Evening Shadow'.Viewers of the Evening Shadow have drawn comparison between the form of the statue and the more recent sculpture of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. In the 1950s, Giacometti went through a period of sculpting statues in a stretched and elongated style, obsessing over an inner vision of perfection and whittling away material to a point of utter emaciation. [3]

Guarnacci Etruscan Museum
Via Don Minzoni, 15
56048 Volterra (PI)
tel. + 39-0588 86347
Daily open except 01/01 and 25/12

Open every day except 01/01 and 25/12
From March 16 to November 1: 09:00 am / 07:00 pm
From November 2 to March 15: 10:00 am / 04:30 pm

Palazzo Incontri-Viti

Ombra della sera (Shadow of the evening), Guarnaccii Etruscan Museum, Volterra. The ancient figurative art of Etruscans had a strong artistic influence on Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
The Palazzo Viti in via Dei Sarti is one of the most beautiful private residences of Italy.
Twelve rooms open to the public, beautifully furnished with furniture, porcelains, alabaster collections and other valuable items representing Italian, European and Oriental art dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. This collection includes a large number of original drawings on rice paper of the nineteenth century, depicting scenes of Chinese life.

The construction of the palazzo began at the end of the 16th century by a nobleVolterran, Attilio Incontri, minister to the Grand duke of Tuscany. The façade, attributed to Bartolomeo Ammannati , is forty three metres in length and sixteen metres wide. Two incomplete wings enclose two small inner courtyards.
Benedetto Giuseppe Viti, an alabaster merchant and extensive traveller, purchased the palazzo in 1850 and made radical changes to the interior. Further renovations were carried out in preparation for the royal visit of King Vittorio Emanuele in 1861.
In 1964 Luchino Visconti filmed a part of the Vaghe Stelle dell’Orso or Sandra (Of a Thousand Delights) with Claudia Cardinale, in the palazzo. The film awarded the Leone d’oro at the Venice film festival.

Palazzo Incontri-Viti, Via dei Sarti, 41, 56048 – Volterra (PI)

From 31.03 to 01.11: daily open
from 10.00 a.m. until 01.00 p.m. and from 02.30 p.m. until 06.30 p.m.

From 02.11 to 30.03 on appointment only


Porta all'Arco

Enlarge map of Volterra


Volterra, balze
Volterra, balze
Perched on a craggy hilltop with vast views over bare grey hills or balze, the mediaeval town of Volterra remains largely intact. But 2 km northwest of town is a deep, eroded limestone ravine called the Balze. Within the area there have been landslides and sink holes as the land continues to fall away. It seems to have begun in the 17C and even most of a rural monastery has been engulfed.

Comune Volterra |

Walking in Tuscany |Maps
San Gimignano - Colle Val d'Elsa - Poggibonsi, Edizioni Multigraphic, 1:25,000

San Gimignano - Volterra, Litografia Artistica Cartografica, 1:25,000
Map of one of Tuscany's most visited areas, with hiking and mountain bike routes, plus on the reverse street plans of San Gimignano and Volterra.

[1] Photo Andrés Nieto Porras

[2] Camille Corot (French painter) Encyclopedia Britannica |
[3] L'Ombra della sera's origin in the pre-history of Etruscan civilisation makes it nigh on impossible to know for sure why someone might have created this piece of captivating art. Experts pose possible theories — such as those outlined below; but, other stories circulate too.

Votive Art

The Etruscans may have practiced the tradition of dedicating figurines in the worship of their gods — just as the Romanscertainly did after them. While simple prayer might suffice to appease the gods, to dedicate a piece of art, like a statue, and leave it at the place of worship could considerably enhance the supplicatory act. Holy sites would, as a result, accumulate many votive offerings like the Ombra della sera, for modern day archaeologists to uncover and puzzle over.

Little God

Lares served as small gods or household spirits for Roman families. The Lar came in pairs and would participate in all the key events around the household, including the family meal. While the specifics around the Lares have been muddied somewhat with the passage of time, these statuettes provided a vital function within the household, exerting a beneficial influence. Pictorial records of the Etruscans, such as the wall painting at Tomba dei Leopardi, suggest the Romans may have adopted the idea of the Lares from their predecessors. While no more certain than any other theory about the Ombra della sera, the possibility exists that this exquisite figure might just be an example of an Etruscan house spirit.
[Source: Ombra Della Sera - An Etruscan Statue |]


Spectacular panoramic scenery in the Tuscan Maremma


Located on the outskirts of Castiglioncello Bandini, in a hilly and unspoilt land, Podere Santa Pia is one of the best places to slow traveling in Tuscany. Podere Santa Pia is perfect for relaxing with magnificent panoramic views of the mystical Maremma hills up to the Mediterranean Sea and Monte Argentario.
Explore the medieval hillside villages of Sovicille, Casole d’Elsa and Colle Val d'Elsa on your way to Volterra, marvel at settlements that date back to Etruscan times, and try some Vernaccia  wines in San Gimignano, where the refined beauty of the squares and churches blends perfectly with the ancient traditions of its white wines.
Podere Santa Pia is situated in a hilly and unspoilt landscape, about one hour drive from Siena.

Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Holiday home Podere Santa Pia


Podere Santa Pia is a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxing with magnificent panoramic views of the mystical Maremma hills up to the Mediterranean Sea and Montecristo.