Volterra is an ancient town, very old, a city-state of the Etruscan civilization, having existence even before the Roman Empire. Later Volterra became a major cultural center of Roman times, once very developed in economy and religion. From the 12th century onwards, with the loss of the influence of the church, Volterra gradually declined and was incorporated into Florence. When the Republic of Florence fell in 1530, Volterra was again ruled by the Medici clan and later became part of the diocese of Tuscany. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget day trip to Volterra town (Volterra italy, Volterra tuscany, Volterra village) for the first-time? Let’s check out our Volterra travel blog with the fullest Volterra guide from how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, best Volterra attractions and top things to do in Volterra to find out the answer!
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In addition to the leaning tower of Pisa or the famous medieval city of Florence, this fall, if you can make a trip to visit Tuscany, Italy, there is nothing better. Spend at least a day exploring the ancient Italian town of Volterra — a land mentioned in the Twilight (novel series) as the home of the Original Vampires (The Vampire Diaries).
Volterra guide: Overview of Volterra Town
The history of Volterra dates back to the 5th century BC when it was a key economic and political region of the vast Tuscany region. Volterra today still retains some of the architecture from the Middle Ages and the development of the Medici castle as a witness to that small town. The ancient town of Volterra is also famous for its Alabaster stone production (Alabaster is a type of mineral or white soft rock, often used for carving, is processed for plaster powder). Come here during your European trip, you will find alabaster sculptures on the roadside shops.
Volterra guide: How to get to Volterra Italy?
We visited Volterra when taking a road trip through Tuscany’s small towns. We arrived in Tuscany after many days of traveling. We somehow crossed the Alps, the northern border of Italy. We cut across the rich Po River delta. We followed the narrow coastal strip of Liguria. Then when we see the mountains give way to low hills covered with olive groves and vineyards in the warm sun, we have entered the Tuscan plains.
The entire area inside the ancient town of Volterra, like many other tourist attractions in Italy, is located in a car-restricted zone (areas known for short as “ZTL” – “Zona a traffic Limitato” “). Only local vehicles are allowed to enter. Vehicles of passing visitors are prohibited from entering and parking. You should park your car at an area near the city gate and then walk to visit Volterra. Outside the city wall, it’s not too difficult to find a parking spot. You should rent a car from Rentalcars.com in Florence.
The town is small, from one gate to the other it probably takes about 20 minutes on foot. This is also the simplest way to get to Volterra as there is no direct public transport from Florence, Pisa or Siena to here.
Volterra is located about halfway on the road. The most logical way is start from Florence or Pisa when going to Siena, let plan a route that turns through Volterra and San Gimignano via provincial road SR 68.
From Florence: Take bus number 131 to Siena from Santa Maria Novella station and get off at Colle di Val d’Elsa. From here take bus 770 to go to Volterra. There are 4 trips per day except Sundays and public holidays. The journey each way takes about 2 and a half hours.
From Siena: Take bus number 131 in the opposite direction to Colle di Val d’Elsa and traveling as mentioned above.
From Pisa: Take the bus to Pontederra and change the bus here. From Pisa to Volterra it takes about two hours. There are 9 trips per day except Sundays and public holidays with a ticket price of only about 7 euros / way. The scenic route up the mountain with Tuscan typical scenery will make you feel extremely satisfied.
Volterra guide: Volterra attractions, what to do & things to do in Volterra
Strolling around the town
Volterra is also small, enough for us to walk for a few hours, it is also not convenient for public transport. Volterra is only for those who are truly open to it. And for those who want an excuse to leave the hustle and bustle of big cities, planning a roadtrip or a day trip to and from Tuscany. Explore Italy as you go to the countryside, to discover new nooks and crannies that at first hear the name, seemingly non-existent, like a sleeping princess in the woods just waiting for you to wake up. You can wandering around the village to feel its ancient atmosphere, admiring medieval architecture that still standing until to day.
The imprint of the illustrious Medici family that owns the land of Volterra with the huge Medici Fortress, perhaps the writer Stephenie Meyer was inspired by this family to build the land of the Volturi family, the ancestral vampire family.
From the top of a hill overlooking Volterra, it can be said that it is more beautiful than a painting. In the distance, the red-brown tiled roofs of houses appear warm in the clear blue autumn sky. I chose a corner on the hill, from here I zoomed out to admire the ancient open-air Roman theater found in the town in 1950.
Although not intact, it still has a majestic appearance that proves the golden age of the Romans thousands of years ago. It can be said that opera was an indispensable entertainment for the Roman people at that time. The emotional operas born in Italy have contributed significantly to the development of European music until now.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo di Volterra)
Christianity played a very important role in the life of the Romans from ancient times and even today. Therefore, anywhere in Italy, from big cities to small towns, villages, churches always present. I followed the street corners to the Duomo, although not as majestic as Duomo in Florence, but the exquisite Gothic architectural style always there. The facade of the church is meticulously carved with beautiful sculptures that make me stand to admire for a long time and but still not get bored.
Piazza dei Priori
Piazza dei Priori is equally great, considered one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. The scenery and atmosphere here reminds all visitors to slow down to relax and enjoy life. I went to a restaurant in the square. Italians are famous not only for being “fashionable” but also very “gourmet”, they are extremely passionate about food and consider it an art.
Volterra with small streets up and down towards a main square Piazza dei Priori. The square with a town hall and a towering clock tower, a church with a proud bell tower that is always the first point that catches our eyes from afar. That space is the meeting point of all roads starting from the defensive wall that has been imprinted for centuries that cannot be erased.
Alternatively, you can also try an Italian cooking class in the area, or take an art course to help you get to know the town better.
Volterra village: What and where to eat?
Of course, when you came here, you couldn’t help but try the Tuscan pasta, which is also the daily menu of Italians, served with the red Chianti wine from this region.
It would be remiss not to enjoy the “gelato” Italian ice cream that is available on most streets here with many flavors to meet all the needs of diners. Italian ice cream is famous for its greasy, sweet taste and crispy cone that makes me mouthwatering.
Panineria Al Vicolino
Located right next to the central square of Volterra, Piazza dei Priori. Al Vicolino is more of a take-away than true restaurant. The restaurant’s food is sandwiches, panini, seemingly very simple. Two pieces of hot, freshly baked bread, sandwiched with local produce, grilled porchetta, all the finest cold cuts from the region, a few slices of coppa (dry-cured pork), sandwiched with grilled eggplant or zucchini, herbs, vegetables mixed with extra virgin olive oil, adding extra cream of olive oil, or cream cheese mixed with delicious truffle mushrooms, so aromatic. It was that smell that made me unable to resist an afternoon snack that day. Prices start from €5, enough for a full meal.
Address: Via delle Prigioni, 2, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy
Hours: 10AM–9PM/Wednesday: Closed
Tel: +39 0588 86921 )
Also, you can refer to the following restaurants:
- Ristorante Enoteca Del Duca (Address: Via di Castello, 2, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy): Serving Tuscan cuisine.
- Ombra della Sera (Address: Via Antonio Gramsci, 70, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy): It is considered one of the best pizza restaurants in the region.
- Ristorante Il Sacco Fiorentino (Address: Via Giusto Turazza, 13, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy): Where you can enjoy you can enjoy local specialties.
Italians attach great importance to dress, so when you go to restaurants, you should dress politely, so leave a tip (about 10% of the value of the bill).
Things to do in Volterra: Shopping in Volterra Tuscany
Volterra is just a small town, but it attracts a lot of tourists because this place is home to souvenir items made from alabaster stone — a pale mineral stone that’s soft enough for carving. Wherever you go, you will always come across souvenir shops with lovely, sophisticated and unique products made of alabaster. You can buy them as gifts.
Suggested Tuscany itinerary
We came Volterra this time on a short roadtrip of about a week in Tuscany. We had previously stayed a few days in Cinque Terre. You can refer to the following itinerary:
- Day 1: Lucca – Volterra
- Day 2: San Gimignano – Siena
- Day 3: Siena
- Day 4: Wine Road SR 222 Chiantigiana – Badia a Passignano
- Day 5: Florence
- Day 6: Florence
- Day 7: Fiesole – Pisa
Where to stay in Volterra Italy?
If you want to spend a night in Volterra Tuscany, below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Diacceroni Agriturismo Biologico (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Villa Rioddi (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Hotel La Locanda (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- San Lino (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Check out more top hotels in Volterra on Agoda.com or Booking.com.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Florence you can refer to
- Duomo Monumental Complex Direct Access Ticket in Florence with Guided Visit
- Florence Duomo, Baptistery, and Museum Tour
- Small Guided Tour with Fast Track Entry to Duomo and the Secret Terraces
- Val d’Orcia Tour from Florence
- Pisa Half Day Tour from Florence
- Chianti Afternoon Tour from Florence
Are you looking for more top things to do in Florence: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And Italy travel guide here.