Volterra Things to Do

  • Chiesa De San Gusto
    Chiesa De San Gusto
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  • Buildings in the Reear of the Church and Volterra
    Buildings in the Reear of the Church and...
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  • Porta all Arco    Outside Wall View
    Porta all Arco Outside Wall View
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    See the Interior of the Cathedral

    by hquittner Updated Oct 20, 2014

    The church is a simple nave and aisles. The upper inner surfaces of the nave are alternating strips of white and black marble. The columns are of pink marble. Behind the altar is a fine work by Mino da Fiesoli. The outside of the nave facing the Pal. dei Priori js faced withblacy and white marble.

    Long View of Nave Lateral Nave Wall West Inner Wall With Sculpture Outside Black and WhiteMarble Facing
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    The Main Floor of the Pal. dei Priori Is Studied

    by hquittner Written Oct 16, 2014

    The first floor of the Pal. dei Priori contains two large meeting rooms. The main one is named the Sala del Consiglio. It is the council chamber and also ihas a groin vault. On one wall is an Annunciation created in the 13C. In the stair well going to the next floor there is a fine crucifixion. In the upper two floors are a fine 14-17C gallery of pictures.

    Sala del Consiglio View of the  Groin Vaulting An Annunciation by Orcagna Possbly Another Wall

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    Study the Palazzo Pretorio's Multiple Sections

    by hquittner Updated Oct 15, 2014

    The Palazzo Pretorio is on the east side of the Piazza dei Priori and is composed of several joined buildings. The central section is the longest and has three upper levels of mostly double windows. At the ground level are three wide extremely tall arches. To the left are four varying width sections, with again with mostly double windows, all of the same height. The third one left has a small tower top. On the right of the main building there are three further sections with the center one being essentially a tower of four stories.

    Central Main Part Palazzo dei Pretorio and Right Left Sections Righti Section with Tower
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    The Ground Floor of the Priori Is Groin Vaulted

    by hquittner Written Oct 15, 2014

    The Palazzo dei Priori has a large single ground floor room whose upper walls are covered with more coats of arms than are seen on the facade. The ceiling is groin vaulted. On one wall there is am ancient fresco by an unknown painter of an Annunciation from the 13C.

    Ground Floor Room Wall With Coats of Arms
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    The Remaining Buildings Around the Piazza

    by hquittner Updated Sep 19, 2013

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    The small part of the northwest corner of the square not occupied by the Priori is filled by an edge of the cathedral. It is one of alternating white and black marble slabs. This is not seen elsewhere on the outside. The rest of the north side is occupied by a fine palazzo that is now the bank di Volterra. For may centuries it was known as the Palazzo Incontri . There is another fine palace along the south side of the square as well.

    North Side of Priori Square South Side of Square South Transept of Duomo
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    Near the Bottom of the Hill

    by hquittner Written Sep 19, 2013

    Almost at the bottom of the hill there is large stone double lavatory which was erected during the 13C called the Fonte Docciolo. Immediately beyond it is the Porta Docciolo of similar age which leads into the parking area.

    Fonte di Docciolo The Porta di Docciolo Another View of Fonte
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    Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo

    by hquittner Written Sep 18, 2013

    As we walked toward the edge of town where the long stairs began, we came to another old church of the 11 and 12C with typical Pisan facing of alternating strips of black and white marble on the west end.

    Lower West Facade UpperWest Facade
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    The Roman Theater

    by hquittner Written Sep 17, 2013

    At the edge of town is a carefully planned area that once was a 5,000 seat amphitheater. Ut disappeared beneath the ground but starting in 1950 to was excavated and it now used for various performances.

    Part of Roman Remains Section of Seating Area
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    Visit the Museo Etrusco

    by hquittner Updated Sep 13, 2013

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    This ancient museum was created in the middle of the18C from the collection of Mario Guernacci and includes several hundred Etruscan grave monuments. The museum is housed in his old palace. and was given by him to the city. Most of the monuments are from the 4-1 C BC, but there are msny interesting earlier works including a small metal sculpture of a nude male.1

    Outside tje Museum Male  Nude
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    There Are Other Works of Art in the Church

    by hquittner Written Sep 8, 2013

    Besides the Mino da Fiesole work there are many fine works to see. In many ways there are frescos by Benozzo Gozzoli showing another variant on his Magi going to the Nativity scenes. Other fine works include an early 13C Deposition scene.

    Magi En Route Closer View
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    Look At the Baptistery

    by hquittner Written Aug 30, 2013

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    A Baptistery was built next to the cathedral in Volterra in the latter half of the 13C. It is not famous like the ones at Firenze and Pisa and it is smaller and quite plain. Of the octagonal faces, only the entry one is finished in sheets of alternating green and white marble. The other seven sides have tall narrow windows. A dome was added in the 16C.

    View Toward the Baptistry The Main Door
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    In the Center of Town

    by hquittner Updated Aug 29, 2013

    The Palazzo dei Priori, built in 1208, is one of the oldest of medieval town halls. There are three floors above the ground floor. The first floor has 5 double windowa and the other two have only three. There is an offset campanile. Embedded into the wall of the ground floor wall are many coats of arms. At each end of the floor is a stone Florentine lion.

    Facade of Palazzo dei Priori Upper Part of Facade Coats of Arms Florentine Lion
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    The Outside of the Cathedral Is Quite Plain

    by hquittner Written Aug 10, 2013

    The cathedral was started in 1120 but was redone and completed after 1254 in Pisan style. The west facade is topped by a descending set of Lombard bands in the center of which is a small rose window. Atop the south transept are some sculpted figures.

    West Facade of Duomo Campanile
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    Check Out the Walls of the City

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Jun 26, 2013

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    In Roman times the walls of Volterra were muich larger encompassing nearly two times what they do now. They did a good job of keeping enemies out but gradually as the town's population fell they became too difficult to defend. In the 13th century, new walls were built that took in a much smaller part of the town. Some of the churches and the Roman theater and bath ruins suddenly became outside the news. The good news however was that the town was much easier to defend against during attacks.

    Today these walls are interesting to view from down below, at grade, or from one of the towers in town. It is particularly interesting to see how the walls have been patched and shored up over time to prevent collapse.

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    Roman Theater and Bath Ruins

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Jun 23, 2013

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    Just outside of the town walls and close to one of the free parking lots in Volterra is the Romain Theater and Bath Ruins. In preparing for our visit to Volterra while in the United States I had the fortune of listening to four great videos by Anne Adair a local resident and tour guide in Volterra. Her fourth video discussed the Roman ruins in Volterra. Some of my text is the result of her excellent story of the Roman ruins in Volterra.

    The theater is nestled up against the walls of Volterra. It contains the ruins of the second theater to be built in stone in the Roman empire. It was constructed in the second half of the second century before Christ. Unlike other theaters it was a theater or half circle not an amphitheater. The theater was a place where Roman citizens came to watch dramatic and comedy performances.

    On the other side of the theater are public bath ruins. These baths were constructed in the third century A.D. and contain many of the stones from the theater which had grown into disrepair by that time. The baths were open free of charge to any Roman citizens.

    In the 13th century the citizens of Volterra fearing invasion constructed new city walls that placed the Roman ruins outside of the city. Since there was a steep hill separating the ruins and the walled city residents began to drop their garbage and waste over the hill on to the ruins. Several hundred years later the ruins were completely covered by garbage. The area was used for sports matches such as soccer fields.

    Around 1950 a finance manager at a local psychiatric hospital named Enrico Fiumi had a hint that there was something significant underneath this field of garbage. He commissioned a series of volunteers from the psychiatric hospital to begin digging. To his and others surprise he uncovered the ruins. The work took approximately ten years and did not involve trained archaeologists. An amazing story to think that the Romans ruins we saw in Volterra were the work of psychiatric patients and workers at a local hospital.

    You can either view the ruins by walking the steps to the town center or by buying a ticket to see the ruins up close. Tickets to the site also include admission to another set of ruins just outside of town. The cost of entry is 5 euros for adults. There are a series of excellent boards that describe what each part of the ruins represent.

    Roman Theater Roman Theater and Bath Ruins Roman Theater and Bath Ruins

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