Volterra, jewel of Etruscan, Roman, medieval and Renaissance, dominated by a hill 550 meters above the valley of Cecina, to the sea. In Volterra history has left its mark with continuity from the Etruscan period until the nineteenth century, with artistic and monuments of great importance, which can be admired simply walking through the streets of the historic center, but also visiting the three city museums: the Etruscan Museum, the Art Gallery and the Museum of Sacred Art. Alongside these pristine landscape, a quality of life still a human scale and an artistic handicraft unique in the world: alabaster.
A city to live intensely, to discover little by little, with its atmospheres, its contrasts, the pulsing of a civilization and a culture that make it "unique" and unrepeatable. The ideal destination for a stay in Tuscany, to discover one of the most pristine areas of the region that is both a step from the sea and from the most important cities.
Volterra as well as being in a remarkable landscape with several nature trails, it offers a priceless cultural heritage, huge compared to the size of the small and refined center of the Val di Cecina. That's because every corner of the city embodies preserved signs of the past. A past that boasts the presence of different civilizations, from the Etruscan and Roman, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, evident not only in ancient remains in the open, but also in the many and various museums that complement each desire to deepen.

Etruscan are the walls, the imposing Arc, the only one in existence, and many valuable archaeological finds of the Etruscan Museum, one of the oldest museums in Europe, in which emerge the '"Evening Shadow", the profile very unique, beautiful and finely crafted jewelry.

A brief history of Volterra
The descriptions of Volterra, offers literature of all time show us a city set on a hill, surrounded by walls, overlooking a vast, vast territory and in fact from anywhere you approach the city, the profile of Volterra, lying on a spur of the hilly Pliocene period, in m. 541 s. l. m. It dominates the surrounding territory bordered by the massif of Montevaso, by cordons of Cornocchi and the Metalliferous Hills.
The privileged position of the hill, at the confluence of the Val di Cecina and Val d'Era, the natural defendibilità the place and the environmental characteristics and mineral resources in the area, favor since the first Neolithic human settlements, certainly documented by abundant lithic artefacts found on the spur of Volterra and in particular in the area of Montebradoni..

The Etruscan
But you have to the Etruscans in the seventh century, when concluding the process of aggregation between the various settlements of the hill of Volterra, they give life to the city of Velathri built in the fourth century. the great walls whose perimeter, over seven kilometers along suggesting that habitat also enclose land to pasture and cultivation, capable of ensuring food during long sieges. In fact, Volterra, became one of the twelve lucomonie that formed the Etruscan nation, with a territory that extended from the river Pesa to the Tyrrhenian Sea and the River Arno in the basin of the river Cornia; Moreover, in the sixth century., became the most important strategic base of the lower valley of the Arno is for pushing Roman from the south, it is for the Gallic invasion from the north.

The Roman period
At the beginning of the third century., The decisive battle of the lake Vadimone (283 BC.) Marked the complete surrender of the peoples of Etruria to the fight against Rome: Volterra sottomessasi to the Romans to the 260, it became part, together with other cities, the Italian confederation. From a well-known passage of Livy concerning supplies that the army of Scipio received from some Etruscan cities, during the Second Punic War in 205 a. C., know that Volterra contributed wood for ships and mainly with wheat, a product that requires a fundamental type of extensive farming. In 90 a. C. with the Lex Julia de Civitate, Volterra gained Roman citizenship, was enrolled in the tribe Sabatina and formed a prosperous municipality whose supreme magistrates elected ordinary and extraordinary are mentioned in various inscriptions. Civil war broke out, Volterra followed the fortunes of the party of Mario; The city argued for two years (82 to 80) a long siege against Silla, until, exhausted, had to surrender.
The consequences of defeat were serious but not irreparable: because both action moderator of Cicero is the largest economic power and relationships with leading figures of the Roman political life of some of the largest families of Volterra who managed to overcome the troubles, all subsequent 'siege and the reprisals of Sulla (81-79 BC); among these especially Caecinae that are often in place of prestige, as A. Caecinae Severus, consul suffectus year I a. C., who was responsible for the dedication of the Roman theater of Vallebona.
With the regional planning Augustan, Volterra was one of the municipalities in the seventh reason, Etruria and, in the fifth century., The first barbaric invasions the city strutturatasi forms castrensian, was a bishopric at the head of a diocese restating the boundaries municipium of Roman and Etruscan lucomonia and was one of the most important ecclesiastical districts of Tuscia Food Board.

The Middle Ages
Subject by the Heruli and the Goths, then hosted a Byzantine garrison and, during the Lombard kingdom, became the seat of Gastaldo, being part of the allocation of the king. In the darkest period of the invasion, it appears the legendary figure of the bishop's right, patron of Volterra, who, along with fellow Clement and Octavian, became worthy of the city due to civil and religious companies which gave rise during his lifetime. In IX-XI sec., For the benefit of the Carolingian emperors, Saxon and Frankish, starts and develops the civil lordship of the bishops of Volterra, who, exempt from the jurisdiction of counts and strong privileges and immunities, had compelled their civil authorities only in Volterra but also of many peoples of the diocese.
At the same time, the general economic revival, which appears a few glimmers of late Lombard, brings the city to be the center of focus of the interests not only religious, but also of social, economic and judicial review of the countryside: the four markets granted by emperors Carolingian during the ninth century. concomitantly with the same number of religious holidays, as well as demonstrate the resumption of trade and commerce in the territory of Volterra, they are of great importance, since markets francs, free gabelle.

The free municipality and the bishops-accounts
The increase in population (after the year one thousand) at the end of the last Hungarian invasions and the end of conflict between Berengar and Albert Marquis of Tuscany that led to the near total devastation of Volterra, causing the birth of the first villages to gather the edge of the area of the castle: the village of Santa Maria (now Via Ricciarelli) and the village of Abbot (now Via Buonparenti and via Sarti), perpendicular to each other parallel to the castle walls. But in the first half of the twelfth century. Volterra became a free town, ready to fight with the bishop for the possession of the city and the wealth of its territory, aware that the greatest gain of the city is the source of salt production, acquires rights over the exploitation of Moie well as many rights on 'extraction of sulfur, vitriol and alum in the area of Larderello, Sasso and Libbiano.
The struggle between the bishop and the town was long and bitter, and culminated with the three bishops of the same powerful family Pannocchieschi: the outcome of the battle was favorable to the municipality, but soon Volterra had to make a political revolt throughout its conservation and very conciliatory towards Pisa, Siena and especially to Florence.
From the urban point of view there is a reorganization of the settlement in a way that constitutes the almost definitive the city. The first major initiative is the construction of new walls that replaced the Etruscans of the fourth century. to. C. too wide to ensure defenses saw the number of resident population: the job occupied the town until the early thirteenth century and committed substantial economic resources. Simultaneously with the construction of new walls srgono the Palazzo del Popolo, then dei Priori and the arrangement of the Piazza dei Priori, the "audience communis" already called Prato.
And around Prato arise from the early years of the thirteenth century. the first buildings tower including that of the Little Pig that later became the seat of the Podesta. Palazzo dei Priori started in 1208 by maestro Riccardo, was finished in 1257 under the Podestà Bonaccorso Adimari, as stated in appoista plaque on the facade. The complex stood isolated: a noise, closed at a later separated him from the Cathedral; access was done by two arches that opened onto a large porch finished by a Arengo.
The Duomo and the Baptistry that constitute the other major urban core, undergo major work ristritturazione: enlargement and exterior decoration dellla façade of the Cathedral is assigned by Vasari to Nicola Pisano in 1254.

The war with Florence
Meanwhile, the contrast between the temporalism ecclesiastical and municipal institutions favored the early fourteenth century. the rise of the right conditions for the emergence of a Signoria and Ottaviano Belforti assumed the role of lord of the city. The government staff Belforti ended miserably in 1361, when one of its members, was beheaded in the public square for having agreed the sale of the city of Pisa. But the end Belforti was also the disaster of the city: the Florentines, who had come from friends to help get rid of the tyranny of Volterra, demanded as compensation, the custody of the Rock and the exclusion from public office of men linked in some way to Volterra, with the exception of their fellow citizens. The Republic of Volterra, despite the proclaimed formal independence, became subjects of Firenze, which increasingly showing interest not only to the natural resources controlled by the city, but also to its location that could be a strong rampart against the Republic of Siena enemy: if He had a confirmation, when the Florentine Republic extended to the territory volterrrano the Law on Land Registry, contrary to the terms agreed between both parties. Followed serious unrest of the people against the law and Giusto Landini, patrician popular, he paid with his life for his opposition to the hegemonic policy of Florence. Antagonisms of private interests, rivalries and envy, animosity and dislike of families and classes, self-interest of Lorenzo cusarono the pointless Allumiere war, which ended with the sacking of Volterra in 1472 by the militias of the Duke of Montefeltro.
Absorbed in the state of Florence, the city was subjected to harsh treatment, which caused the emigration of many wealthy families and the consequent alienation of property at the price of failure. The visible sign of Florentine rule in Volterra is the construction between 1472 and 1475 of the Keep the fortress, built by Lorenzo the Magnificent to simultaneously control the city and establish a stronghold to the Sienese territory.

The Renaissance period
While it was operating in the defense, large families Volterra gave off many transformations of their palaces forms prepared by the architectural culture of Florence. The likely presence of Michelozzo in the yard of the convent of San Girolamo in Velloso (1445) and from San Antonio Galllo the old, in the renovation of the "sale" (the current bishop's palace) might have facilitated the spread of Florentine models: houses and buildings as Pillars of those families, Ricciarelli, Minucci and Gherardi know a modernization of the façades and an adjustment of the ancient towers to the new taste spread from the dominant city. In 1530, in one last desperate hope of regaining the lost freedoms, Volterra rebelled against the Florentines at war with the Doctors, allying with them, but was revived and again sacked by Ferrucci. Restored the Medici in Florence, Volterra lost its independence and became one of the cities in the state which followed the fortunes of the Medici; but with the grand ducal domain starts to Volterra and its territory a certain period of slow but progressive decline that will last until the eighteenth century Institute.
The recovery of alabaster working in the mid-sixteenth was realized almost exclusively as a fact of art and moved towards commercial addresses. The settlement pattern shows no big changes; you can find some work to complete, as Inghirami building (facade, designed by Gherardo Silvani) and new buildings especially religious, among which stands out the rebuilding of the church of SS. Giusto and Clemente.

Until today
Towards the end of the eighteenth century. and the first half of the nineteenth century. there were increases in agriculture, trade in alabaster and a decisive improvement in road links; the village center is subject to a general adjustment and reorganization: you have the construction of the theater Persio Flacco (1879), the opening of the walk of the bridges and the new road to the salt marshes (1833) as well as the restoration of buildings located in the square Priori (1846).
In the second half of the century, after the unification of Italy, apart from some restructuring of the spaces in the town center to make way to the offices of the new kingdom, the intervention of the most important is the creation of the psychiatric hospital (1888). Finally, 13 March 1879 with 2,315 votes in favor, 78 against and 44 missing Volterra rate its annexation to a united Italy, paying its price in blood is all'edifiazione national unity in the 1915-18 war is the struggle of resistance against fascism. In the past the economy of terrritorio was based mainly on the extraction of copper, alum, alabaster and salt that were worked in manufacturing Volterra and exported.
Today, with the emigration took place after World War II, the industry is based on small craft to the alabaster, on the extraction of rock salt on some metelmeccanica and chemical industry; the resident population from 17,879 units in 1951 dropped to 13,800 in 1991.

One of the main sources of income is currently tourism: Volterra is in fact able to show not only the great monuments that have marked its 30 centuries of history but has jealously and houses three museums of great historical and artistic interest, the Museum Guarnacci, the Municipal Art Gallery and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

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