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Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri or Vlathri[5] and to the Romans as Volaterrae,[6] is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy. The town was a Bronze Agesettlement of the Proto-Villanovan culture,[7][8] and an important Etruscan center (Velàthre, Velathri or Felathri in Etruscan, Volaterrae in Latin language), one of the "twelve cities" of the Etruscan League.[9][10]

The site is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since at least the end of the 8th century BC.[11][12][13] It became a municipium allied to Rome at the end of the 3rd century BC.[14][15] The city was a bishop's residence in the 5th century,[16] and its episcopal power was affirmed during the 12th century. With the decline of the episcopate and the discovery of local alum deposits, Volterra became a place of interest of the Republic of Florence, whose forces conquered Volterra.[17] Florentine rule was not always popular, and opposition occasionally broke into rebellion.[18] These rebellions were put down by Florence.

When the Republic of Florence fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and later followed the history of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Main sights


The main events that take place during the year in Volterra are

  • Volterra gusto[56]

  • Volterra arte

  • Volterra teatro[57]




Menelaus and Meriones lifting Patroclus' corpse on a cart while Odysseus looks on; alabaster urn, Etruscan artwork from Volterra, 2nd century BC

In popular culture

  • Volterra features in Horatius, a poem by Lord Macaulay.[59][60]

  • Linda Proud's A Tabernacle for the Sun (2005), the first volume of The Botticelli Trilogy, begins with the sack of Volterra in 1472. Volterra is the ancestral home of the Maffei family and the events of 1472 lead directly to the Pazzi Conspiracy of 1478. The protagonist of the novel is Tommaso de' Maffei, half brother of one of the conspirators.

  • Volterra is an important location in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. In the books, Volterra is home to the Volturi, a coven of rich, regal, powerful ancient vampires, who essentially act as the rulers of the world's vampire population. (However, the relevant scenes from the movie were shot in Montepulciano.)

  • Volterra is the site of Stendhal's famously disastrous encounter in 1819 with his beloved Countess Mathilde Dembowska: she recognised him there, despite his disguise of new clothes and green glasses, and was furious. This is the central incident in his book On Love [fr].[61][62]

  • Volterra is mentioned repeatedly in British author Dudley Pope's Captain Nicholas Ramage historical nautical series. Gianna, the Marchesa of Volterra and the fictional ruler of the area, features in the first twelve books of the eighteen-book series. The books chart the progress and career of Ramage during the Napoleonic wars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, providing readers with well-scripted articulate details of life aboard sailing vessels and conditions at sea of that time.[63][64]

  • Volterra is the site where the novel Chimaira by the Italian author Valerio Massimo Manfredi takes place.[65]

  • Valerio Massimo Manfredi's The Ancient Curse is also set in Volterra, where a statue called 'The Shade of Twilight' is stolen from the Volterra museum.

  • Volterra is featured in Jhumpa Lahiri's 2008 collection of short stories Unaccustomed Earth. It is where Hema and Kaushik, the protagonists of the final short story "Going Ashore," travel before they part.[66]

  • Volterra is featured in Luchino Visconti's 1965 film Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa, released as Sandra (Of a Thousand Delights) in the United States and as Of These Thousand Pleasures in the UK..[67]

  • Volterra's scenery is used for Central City in the 2017 film Fullmetal Alchemist (film) directed by Fumihiko Sori.

  • 2016 video game The Town of Light is set in a fictionalized version of the notorious Volterra Psychiatric Hospital.[68]

  • "Volaterrae" is the name given by Dan and Una to their secret place in Far Wood in Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill." "They named it from the verse in "Lays of Ancient Rome":

From lordly Volaterrae,
Where scowls the far-famed hold
Piled by the hands of giants
For Godlike Kings of old.

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