A blast from the past from Villa Iris near Volterra
Located close to the province of Pisa and within easy reach of Villa Iris is the important town of Volterra, a town of Etruscan origin where clear traces of the past still remain. Among the best preserved examples are the Porta dell'Arco and the Porta Diana gates and a large section of the ancient city wall - all remnants of the Etruscan era.
In spite of its numerous mementos of ancient times, Volterra sustained severe damage in 1853 during a violent earthquake, the epicenter of which was right in the town centre.
Volterra is also famous for other reasons, such as the mining and processing of alabaster, a gypsum rock much prized for its translucency. The craftsman processing of alabaster is of an extremely high standard and quality, enabling the city to export works of art around the world with its numerous processing workshops and collaboration with Tuscan universities.
Cultural sites worth a visit
Volterra still contains a large quantity of religious architecture straddling the Romanesque and Renaissance periods, with fragments of 15th century origin. The mix of architectural and artistic styles is evident in the Duomo of Volterra and the Campanile. The cathedral was built between the 12th and 13th centuries in the Romanesque style but was restored several times during the 19th century. Beside the facade of the Duomo stands the Campanile which by contrast is built in the 15th century style. Equally interesting is the San Giovanni baptistry, a large, octagonal building dating back to the twelve hundreds and representing the typical two-colour green and white marble style of Romanesque buildings.
Volterra, city of entertainment
If you're looking for entertainment and you're visitng Volterra from Villa Iris in the summer season, you really should see Volterra Theatre, the popular, long-standing festival of contemporary theatre established in 1986.The current artistic director of the theatre is founder of the Compagnia della Fortezza Armando Punzo, renowned for his theatrical productions in collaboration with the inmates of Volterra prison.
And don't miss the dulcet sounds of Volterra Jazz for a review by the finest jazz musicians. On the third and the fourth Sundays in August, you can take a step back in time to the Middle Ages with a historical reconstruction of the city when it’s invaded by jugglers, street markets and musicians.
For afficionados of gourmet tourism on the lookout for new tastes, may we suggest that you try Volterragusto, a food fair dedicated to cheese and ricotta, exquisite oils and wines, truffles, bread and fine salamis typical of Volterra.