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Piazza dei Priori

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza dei Priori, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit Piazza dei Priori in the late afternoon when the sun casts a golden hue on the historic buildings, providing a perfect backdrop for photographers. And if you ask around, you might find a local who can show you the small, hidden alleyway that gives a unique view of the Palazzo dei Priori's tower, a viewpoint rarely found by tourists."

What is Piazza dei Priori?

Piazza dei Priori is the heart of Volterra, a historic town nestled in the hills of Tuscany. It’s a medieval square, surrounded by buildings that whisper tales of the past with their aged stone and intricate facades. As someone who has walked its cobblestones countless times, I can attest to the square's vibrant atmosphere, where locals mix with travelers under the shadow of the imposing Palazzo dei Priori, from which the square takes its name. Its picturesque charm encapsulates the essence of Tuscany, a harmony of art, history, and daily life that’s simply captivating.

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As you step into the square, you'll notice it's not just another tourist spot; it's a living, breathing part of the city. It plays host to open-air markets, cultural festivities, and has been a gathering place for the people of Volterra for centuries. The unique L-shaped configuration and the varying architectural styles give away layers of history. Picture the citizens of ancient Volterra walking the same paths, conducting commerce, politics, or simply indulging in the social life of their time.

History of Piazza dei Priori

The history of Piazza dei Priori dates back to the 12th century, and it’s truly a palimpsest of various epochs. The standout Palazzo dei Priori, which dates back to 1208, is one of the oldest public buildings in Italy. Its crenellated towers and colorful frescoes narrate the stories of the city's rich political and cultural life across the ages. Over the centuries, the square has seen changes in power and fortune, from the Etruscans to the Florentines, and each left their mark on the square's architecture and ambiance.

Have you ever wondered how many feet have traversed these stones or what pivotal decisions were made within the walls that surround the square? The Piazza dei Priori has played a central role in Volterra's public life, hosting everything from medieval festivals to modern-day events. Notably, it was once the center of power for the city's governing elite, the Priori, whose influence was felt throughout the region. Their political savvy helped shape the town into the historical gem it is today.

Why is Piazza dei Priori Important?

Piazza dei Priori holds significance beyond its physical beauty. It's a testament to Volterra’s storied past, representing power, resilience, and artistic achievement. This square is much like a multi-layered storybook where each building is a chapter detailing periods from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It exemplifies the typical communal space in an Italian medieval city where political, economic, and social life converged. This is why it's not just an attraction; it's the soul of Volterra, encapsulating the essence of its enduring spirit.

This is where townsfolk have congregated for generations, where notable decisions about the future of this hilltop community were made and where artistic and cultural influences intermingled to shape the region's identity. This square is not just important for its past; it is integral to the present-day community. It’s a place where tradition still thrives, and local identity is proudly on display. Think about it, how many piazzas have you visited that are still the epicenter of local life as they were centuries ago?

Things to Do & See at Piazza dei Priori

Visiting Piazza dei Priori is like embarking on a treasure hunt, where every nook holds a story. Do take your time to wander around and soak in the artistry of the Palazzo dei Priori itself. Its frescoed halls and the panoramic view from its tower are not to be missed. Admire the façade of Palazzo Pretorio with its tower, the Torre del Porcellino, and imagine the sound of the bell signaling an important event in the town’s history.

Indulge in local cuisine at one of the piazza's trattorias, where you can savor traditional Tuscan dishes. If you're lucky to visit during a market day or festival, you'll see the square transform with vibrant stalls and spirited performances. Regularly, artisans display their crafts, offering you a piece of Volterra’s heritage to take home. And for a quiet moment, step into one of the adjacent alleys – you might discover a small workshop where alabaster, a stone deeply associated with Volterra, is still crafted using age-old techniques.

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Beyond the square itself, history buffs can venture into the Etruscan Museum, just a short walk away, to uncover more about the area's ancient roots. Art enthusiasts will find a visit to the Pinacoteca, Volterra's art gallery, deeply rewarding with its collection of Tuscan paintings and sculptures. Lastly, don't forget to simply stand in the middle of the Piazza dei Priori, close your eyes, and let the echoes of the past mingle with the lively buzz of the present. How often do you get to stand in the very place where history has been in the making for over eight centuries?

Frequently asked questions

What is the historical significance of Piazza dei Priori in Volterra?

Piazza dei Priori is one of the oldest public spaces in Italy and has been the center of political power in Volterra since the Middle Ages. It is surrounded by well-preserved medieval buildings, including the Palazzo dei Priori, which is one of the oldest town halls in Tuscany.

Can you visit the interior of Palazzo dei Priori?

Yes, visitors can enter the Palazzo dei Priori to admire its interior, which includes beautiful frescoes and the historic council chamber. There may be an entrance fee, and opening hours can vary, so it's recommended to check in advance.

What are some noteworthy features of Piazza dei Priori?

Piazza dei Priori is notable for its medieval architecture, especially the façade of the Palazzo dei Priori with its Gothic windows and crenellations. Other features include the stone-paved square and various other historical buildings that line the square, representing different periods of Volterra's history.

Are there any events or markets held in Piazza dei Priori?

Throughout the year, Piazza dei Priori hosts various events, including markets, festivals, and cultural activities. The nature of these events can vary each year, so it is best to look up the calendar of events for the current period.

What are some dining options near Piazza dei Priori?

There are numerous dining options around Piazza dei Priori, offering a range of cuisines from traditional Tuscan dishes to international fare. Visitors can find restaurants, cafes, and gelaterias that cater to different tastes and budgets.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza dei Priori, 56048 Volterra PI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps