Annual Events in Volterra, Tuscany, Italy
Festa of the Patron Saint of Volterra
Festivities by the historic groups of Volterra.
Volterra A.D 1398 - Medieval Festival
(in August for approximately 2 weeks): This important event is not to be missed. It takes place between the third and fourth Sundays of August, starting Sunday. The two Sundays are the best days to be here, from 11 am until about midnight.
(October - November)
Lonely Planet: Volterra
Volterra's well-preserved medieval ramparts give the windswept town a proud, forbidding air that author Stephanie Meyer deemed ideal for the discriminating tastes of the planet's principal vampire coven in her wildly popular Twilight
book series. Fortunately, the reality is considerably more welcoming, as a wander through the winding cobbled streets (refreshingly populated by locals rather than tourists) attests.
The Etruscan settlement of Velathri was an important trading centre and senior partner of the Dodecapolis. It is believed that as many as 25,000 people lived here in its Etruscan heyday. Partly because of the surrounding inhospitable terrain, the city was among the last to succumb to Rome – it was absorbed into the Roman confederation around 260 BC and renamed Volaterrae. The bulk of the old city was raised in the 12th and 13th centuries under a fiercely independent free comune.
The city first entered Florence's orbit in 1361, but the people of Volterra fought hard against Medici rule – their rebellion was brought to a brutal end when Lorenzo Il Magnifico's soldiers sacked the city in 1472. There was another rebellion in 1530 – again brutally crushed by the Florentines – but Volterra would never again achieve self-government, moving from Florentine rule to that of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany before unification in 1860.
Volterra Top Sights
Twilight Saga New Moon in Volterra
- Roman Theater, Forum, and Baths: Construction started on the Roman Theater in the 1st century BC. Behind the theater are remains of Roman baths dating from the 4th century AD. There are also remains of the Roman forum. During the middle ages these sites were part of a rubbish dump and were buried until excavations began in 1951.
- Piazza dei Priori: The main square is one of the most impressive in Tuscany. On the piazza is the 13th century Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest town hall in Tuscany. Also on the piazza are the 14th-century Palazzo Vescovile and the back of the cathedral.
- Cathedral and Baptistry: The duomo, or cathedral, dates from 1120 when it was constructed on the site of a previous church. It has a Romanesque facade and an entrance added in the 13th century. The interior was modified in the late 16th century in Renaissance style and has a richly decorated ceiling and several chapels with frescoes or wood panels and a 12th century marble pulpit. The octagonal Baptistery dates from the 13th century although parts of it may be older. Its facade is decorated with green and white marble stripes and the dome dates from the 15th century.
- Medieval Wall and Gates: 13th century walls enclose the historic center. There are six gates in the walls into the center, dating from the 13th to 16th centuries. Porta San Francesco still has traces of the original frescoes. From Porta San Felice there are views of the countryside beyond the town. Two fonts have also been preserved. One of them, Fonte di Docciola, was used in the middle ages to provide water for mills and the wool industry. Near San Felice font, built in 1319, are remains of the Etruscan wall.
- Etruscan Sites: At the highest point of Volterra is the Etruscan acropolis with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The archeological site is part of a park that includes foundations of two Etruscan temples, dwellings from the Hellenistic period, a system of cisterns, and medieval tower ruins. Porta All' Arco, the Arch gate, has sides possibly dating back to the 5th century BC with the arch and heads dating from the 3rd to 2nd century BC. Etruscan tombs, carved into sandstone below the ground, can be found in several places.
- Museums: The Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, founded in 1761, was one of Europe's first public musuems. The large collection of artifacts is housed in the 13th century Palazzo dei Priori. The Civic Museum and Art Gallery are housed in the 15th century Palazzo Minucci-Solaini and includes paintings and art works from medieval to modern times. A Museum of Sacred Art is housed in the Bishop's Palace.
- Medicea Fortress: The fortress, high on the hill, consists of the Rocca Antica and the Rocca Nuova.
: Volterra is the home of the Volturi in the New Moon book, the second book in the Twilight series, and action at the end of the story takes place here. The New Moon movie was released in November 2009, and although the ending is set in Volterra it was actually filmed in Montepulciano.