Voterra: lying high up a hill in the Tuscan countryside, discover this Etruscan and Medieval town that retains its historical character.

volterraThe charming little town of Volterra lies near Pisa in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its first inhabitants came here in the Bronze Age and it has continuously had settlers since roughly the 8th Century BC. Its Etruscan name was ‘Velathri’, though the name you see today actually comes from the Latin ‘Volaterrae’.

You can enter the historical center of this town by impeccably preserved Etruscan city walls. Here you can also see two of the Etruscan city gates, the Porta dell’Arco and Porta Diana. Within the town itself you can find many Medieval and Etruscan fingerprints on its tiny streets and piazzas. For example, the Piazza dei Priori is a Medieval square that first saw its construction start at the beginning of the 13th Century. But Volterra’s history goes even further back in time. For example, you can still see the remains of a Roman theater in this town. Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages this was used as a rubbish tip, however it was fully excavated in the 1950s.

Volterra’s Pinacoteca is a very interesting art gallery. Here you can view the works of Tuscan artists throughout the Renaissance periods of the 14th-17th Centuries. For more art, the Duomo di Volterra is definitely worth a visit. Here you will find an incredibly beautiful ceiling, which dates back to the 16th Century. The church itself dates back to the 12th Century, though its interiors went under renewal towards the 16th. Here you can see works by the likes of Veracini, Balducci, Circignani and Gozzoli.

Whilst in Volterra, make sure you get to taste its delicious cheeses. A classic dish here is, in fact, fondue, which you can eat as an appetiser to your main meal. If you find yourself in the area in spring and autumn, you can visit the Volterragusto. This is a festival celebrating all the food and wine of the area! Another fun event takes place on the 3rd and 4th Sundays in August, when Medieval reenactments are performed in the town center.

The nearest two airports to Volterra are Pisa and Florence. From here, and from anywhere in Tuscany, it is easy to catch a train, bus or hire a car to reach Volterra.

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