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Volterra, Pisa

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VolterraVolterra is one of the most known town in Tuscany: its unique position and its ancient history leave everyone enchanted.

It is located in the east side of the province of Pisa on the borderline of the province of Siena, and located on a hill 550 m above the sea level. Volterra dominates the whole valley of the river Cecina.
An uncontaminated landscape surrounds the town: it's the ideal place for excursions on foot, on horse back or by bicycle. Volterra's history dates back from the Etruscan period to the 19th century with artistic and monumental traces of great importance.

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 too in its buildings, 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 .
The Renaissance period has influenced Volterra in a particular way, however without changing the Medieval atmosphere. Some good examples are the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini, beautifully inserted among the Medieval housetowers, the Palazzo Incontri Vitii with its theatre Persio Flacco added in the courtyard in the 19th century, the Palazzo Inghirami, the Palazzo Ruggieri, the Convent of San Girolamo with the terracotta statues of Della Robbia and the Medicean Fortress which looms over the Medieval town.

Apart from its monuments, its art and history, Volterra also offers a magnificent panorama of the gentle undulating hills of the surrounding landscape abruptly interrupted in the West by the Balze (crags). The slow progression of these repeated landslides finally precipitated the destruction of the most ancient Etruscan necropolis, the earliest Christian churches and the ruin of the 11th century Badia Camaldolese.

Today Volterra has 3 museums of considerable artistic and historical value. The Museo Guarnacci is one of the most important museums in Italy for its rich Etruscan-Roman patrimony.
The Pinacoteca and the Museo Civico, preserve valuable paintings of the Sienese and Florentine schools, among which “The descent from the Cross” by Rosso Fiorentino. Finally the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is noteworthy for the variety and quantity of ecclesiastical vestments, the collection of gold reliquary, the illuminated manuscripts and the 14th century sculptures of the Sienese school.

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 famous even for an artistic handicraft unique in the world: the manufacture of Alabaster.

Each year excellent cultural events are organised by hard-working local associations dedicated to enlivening each season. Over the years the list has grown: from the memorable exhibit “Volterra’73” to the Spring Music Festival, the Volterrateatro theatre festival, the Compagnia della Fortezza prison inmate theatre programme, Volterra Jazz, the Medieval Week, the Astiludio (medieval flag-throwing tournament) and much, much more.

On 2009 Volterra became the setting of the movie New Moon, from the Twilight Saga, where Stephenie Meyer's novel has a background of art and history.

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