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Volterra To See and Do

Religious Sites

Religious Sites in Volterra


Like many a town in Tuscany, Volterra has a number of churches built along the centuries dating as far back as the early years of the second millennium. Most of these churches are on the streets where the cruise ship passenger will inevitably pass. The Cathedral, the Baptistery of Saint John and the Church of Saint Francis are must see religious sites. But as you will pass by many others, a pick inside is always recommended.


Editor Points: Dedicated to the Holy Mary, the Volterra Duomo was built during the 12th and 13th centuries on the site of a previous church that also honored Mary. The current structure is a mixture of late-Renaissance and Romanesque styles. Restoration work carried out after a fire in 1842 added a gothic style transept. Although the Duomo is filled with baroque paintings, the two most striking elements of the cathedral are its ceiling and the Cappella dell’Addolorata (Chapel of the Grieved). The Duomo’s ceiling is covered with portraits of Volterran saints, which was embossed in 1580 with gold and azure. The Cappella dell’Addolorata features two Nativity scenes made of terracotta and a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli that provides a background for the arrival of the Magi.

Photo of Cathedral in Volterra by Geobia (Creative Commons)

Duomo (Cathedral) in Volterra

Photo by Geobia (Creative Commons)

WHERE City Centre
Entrance: FREE
Address: Piazza S. Giovanni
Website: Visit Official Site

Battisterio di San Giovanni
(Baptistery of Saint John)

Editor Points: Although it is widely believed that the Baptistery was constructed during the 13th century, some of its elements suggest an earlier era. The exterior of the structure is festively adorned with green and white marble, but the interior is rather austere. The most notable attraction of the Baptistery is a small marble baptismal font elegantly sculpted by Andrea Cuntucci, in 1502, which portrays Christ’s baptism and four virtues: faith, hope, charity, and justice. The church also contains a baptistery drum distinctively decorated on one side with black and white marble bands, a marble frieze by Mino da Fiesole and Alessandro Balsimelli, and a painting by Nicolo Cercignani.

Photo of 'Fonte Battesimale' in the Baptistery.

'Fonte Battesimale' by Andrea Sansovino

Photo by Geobia (Creative-Commons)

WHERE City Centre
Entrance: FREE
Address: Piazza S. Giovanni
Website: Visit Official Site

Chiesa di San Francesco
(Saint Francis' Church)

Editor Points: The 13th century San Francesco Church is a simple building that many would not look at twice. The only decoration on its stone façade is the city’s coats of arms while its interior holds a single nave covered by a wood-beamed ceiling. There is one truly magnificent aspect of the church that makes it worth a visit: fresco of the Legend of the True Cross by Cenni di Francesco. Not only is this 15th-century masterpiece decorating the 'Cappella Croce del Giorno', a delightfully colorful work of art in itself, but it also provides a historical record of fashion and architectural trends during the early 1400s.

Photo Facade of Saint Francis' Church in Volterra.

Facade of Saint Francis' Church

Photo by Geobia (Creative-Commons)

WHERE City Centre
Entrance: FREE
Address: Off Via S. Lino
Website: Visit Official Site

Must See


Photo of 'Annunciation' painting by Fra Bartolomeo in the Cathedral

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

painting by Fra Bartolomeo

Photo of 'Nativity', painting by Francesco Curradi.

Photo: Mattis - Creative Commons

painting by Francesco Curradi

Saint Francis' Church

Photo of Christ in Heaven painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

Frescoed Ceilings

Photo of painting of Crucifixion by Tamagni in the Saint Francis' Church.

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

by Tamagni.

Tourist Office

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.

The Tourist Information Office can provide adtional 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:

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Last Update: January 12, 2016

The information on this page was accurate when last updated but changes may have occurred without notice.
It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your tour of Volterra.
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