Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri, and to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town in the western-central area of the Tuscany region of Italy. It is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since the 8th Century B.C., although the controlling powers have varied widely. Influences of these many and varied cultures appear throughout the city. It is a Bronze Age settlement of the Villanovan culture, and an important Etruscan center – one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League. It was later ruled by the Romans, became a bishop’s residence in the 5th Century, an Episcopal center in the 12th Century, and later captured by the Florentines.
There are some interesting sights here, including the Volterra Duomo. It was enlarged in the 13th century after an earthquake and has significant art and religious features. Be sure to visit the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum with thousands of funeral urns dating back to the Hellenistic and Archaic periods. There is also the Roman Theatre of Volterra which dates back to the 1st Century B.C. that was excavated in the 1950’s. The Town Hall, located on Piazza dei Priori, dates back to the early 13th Century, taking nearly 50 years to complete between 1208 and 1257. There are also excavations of the Etruscan tombs in the Valle Bona area. Make sure you also have time to visit the traditional Alabaster workshops of Volterra, a craft that has been in existence since Etruscan times. The history of Volterra is outdone only by the breathtaking vistas of the town.