Etruscan, Roman then Florentine, this is a hill town with a history, windswept and handsome with streets of medieval architecture.
Volterra is a fine looking and interesting Tuscany destination, not least for its Etruscan and Roman sights. There is a museum filled with valuable Etruscan artefacts, many pieces are in alabaster, mined from nearby quarries. Contemporary artists still work in local alabaster indeed there is a museum dedicated to the material with beautiful works from across the millennia. You can visit the Roman amphitheatre, and in between grassy slopes imagine the cheering audience in 2,000 seats.
The Duomo di Volterra dominates the Piazza San Giovanni, it dates from the 12th century, the same time Castello del Nero was built. Features include many frescos, an extensively long nave, gold gilded ceiling and the typical Tuscan black and white striped interiors. On another side of the piazza is the Torre del Porcellino, or Piglet Tower; look out for a small wild boar, sitting on a high stone shelf. There are many medieval towers in the city, most atop private homes, a personal competition indicating the owner’s prosperity.
High above the city is La Fortezza Medicea, initially built by the Florentine Lorenzo de Medici and many adversaries of the Medici family ended up imprisoned in this fort. It is still a prison, and as part of a rehabilitation scheme they have introduced a restaurant run by inmates, an unusual high security dining experience.