Overview of Volterra for cruisers to the Port of Livorno: how to get there; top things to do; where to have a quick bit or a gourmet lunch, and shopping
Volterra is a magical Tuscan city built on a hilltop 550 meters above sea level, affording stunning views of the sea and the surrounding pastoral landscapes.
The lesser know and visited destination by passengers on a cruise to Livorno, Volterra was once described by D.H. Lawrence as a city perched “on a towering great bluff that gets all the winds and see all the world.”
Volterra Piazza del Priori
Photo: Jean-Christophe BENOIST (Creative Commons)
Volterra is rooted in 3,000 years of history and traces of every historical period can be found within its walls. From the Etruscan period, the Porta all’Arco is crowned by carvings of ancient gods. The enchantingly well-preserved Roman Theatre and Baths are testaments to the city’s wealth under the rule of Augustus.
Volterra’s Medieval and Renaissance prosperity left behind the Fortezza Medicea, the Palazzo Incontri-Viti, the impressive city walls, and a maze of narrow streets. The connection with the Florentine Medici is offered the city impressive artworks by masters like Ghirlandaio and Signorelli.
Although Volterra is a short distance from Florence, Siena, and San Gimignano, and is part of Tuscany, it is surrounded by countryside that ascribes to a traditional, slower way of life.
As a result, the city has not felt the crush of modernity and has retained its Medieval charm. Cruise visitors wandering its majestic palaces and admiring the work of alabaster artisans will also feel Volterra’s unique, timeless atmosphere.
How to Explore Volterra
Unfortunately, only a few cruise lines offer shore excursions to Volterra. There are a few online tour services, like Viator, that have organized tours to this quaint medieval town but usually in a combo with San Gimignano.
The good news is that it is easy to explore Volterra on your own either by renting a car, or by rail and public bus. Find Out How to Travel to Volterra from Livorno Cruise Port ❯
Top things to do and see
Considered the top highlits of Volterra, the Cathedral, the Baptistery of Saint John and the Church of Saint Francis are impossible to miss in the historical center. Many informed visitors of Volterra travel to this medieval town on purpose to visit these three emblematic religious sites:
- The Cathedral
Dedicated to the Holy Mary, the Duomo (in Italian) was built during the 12th and 13th centuries on the site of a previous church that also honored Mary. Read more ...
- The Baptistery of Saint John
Although it is widely believed that the Battisterio di San Giovanni (in Italian) was constructed during the 13th century, some of its elements suggest an earlier era. Read more ...
- The Church of Saint Francis
The 13th century Chiesa di San Francesco (in Italian) is a simple building that many would not look at twice. Read more ...
These three religious sites are the most famous atractions of Volterra, but cruise passengers may also be interested in four excellent museums:
- Etruscan Museum
The Museo Etrusco Guarnacci (in Italian) was founded in 1761 when Mario Guarnacci donated his collection of artifacts and library of over 50,000 volumes to “the citizens of the city of Volterra.” Read more ...
- Sacred Art Museum
The Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacra (in Italian) was established by the Canon Maurizio Cavallini and officially opened its doors on December 20, 1932. Read more ...
- Pinacoteca and Civic Museum
The Palazzo Minucci-Solaini houses some of the best works by Volterran artists who lived in the city between the 12th and 17th centuries such as Rosso Fiorentino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Luca Signorelli. Read more ...
- Alabaster Museum
The Ecomuseo dell’Alabastro is an art museum that shares space with the Pinacotheca in a former 17th century Augustinian convent. Read more ...
Volterra Teatro Romano
Photo: Geobia (Creative Commons)
For the cruise passengers interested in ancient history, the Roman Theatre and the Archaeological Park are two major archaeological sites that must be visited. Explore the Landmarks of Volterra
Volterra Teatro Romano
Photo: Geobia (Creative Commons)
Where to have a quick bite or Lunch in Volterra
Considering that the town is easy to explore in a couple of hours, the cruise traveler will have the opportunity to taste truly Tuscan flavors before returning to the cruise port in Livorno.
Photo by Nicola Dal Canto (Il Sacco Fiorentino Facebook Page)
There are many wonderful places to enjoy a light fare on an Enoteca (wine bar) or on more upscale and famous restaurants like "Il Sacco Fiorentino" or "Del Duca". Learn more about where to have lunch in Volterra ❯
Shopping and shops
Famous for its alabaster, Volterra has quite a few shops where carvings of this white stone can be purchased. Certainly the cruise traveler will not miss the displays all over town with all sorts of decorative objects. Explore What and Where to Shop in Volterra ❯
Tourist Office in Volterra
IQCruising strongly advises a visit to the Tourist Information Office on Piazza dei Priori (very centrally located) - open every day between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm and between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm to double check opening hours of main attractions.
The Tourist Information Office can provide additional information of interest for the cruise ship passenger calling at the Port of Livorno. Besides great maps, it also offers an Audio Guide Tour that is ideal to explore Volterra on your own.
If the cruise traveler is interested in the popular Twilight vampire saga, the Tourist Information Office has info about all major filming sites and tours on offer.
Official Website in English: