3 Churches
in Volterra to visit
on a cruise to Livorno port

All you need to know about the most interesting churches in Volterra for cruise travelers to the port of Livorno to visit on a shore excursion or on your own.

Updated: May 23, 2023

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.

1. Cathedral

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.

Photo of Cathedral in Volterra by Geobia (Creative Commons)

Duomo (Cathedral) in Volterra

Photo by Geobia (Creative Commons)

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.

Photo of Nativity, painting by Francesco Curradi in Volterra's Cathedral

Nativity by Francesco Curradi

Photo by Mattis (Creative Commons)

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 'Annunciation' painting by Fra Bartolomeo in the Cathedral

Annunciation by Fra Bartolomeo

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

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

2. Baptistery of Saint John
(Battisterio di San Giovanni)

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.

Photo of 'Fonte Battesimale' in the Baptistery.

'Fonte Battesimale' by Andrea Sansovino

Photo by Geobia (Creative-Commons)

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.

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

3. Saint Francis' Church
(Chiesa di San Francesco)

The 13th century San Francesco Church is a simple building that many would not look at twice.

Photo Facade of Saint Francis' Church in Volterra.

Facade of Saint Francis' Church

Photo by Geobia (Creative-Commons)

The only decoration on its stone facade 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.

Photo of Frescoed Ceilings

Frescoed Ceilings

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

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

Crucifixion by Tamagni.

Photo: Mattana - Creative Commons

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

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