The land, on which the centre of civic life evolved, was
once named the Bishops Prato for it was the bishop who originally presided over and
ruled the city.The newly founded commune gradually took over the bishops rule and
the towers and the first dwellings were erected on the Prato. An elm tree was planted in
the main square, around which, the consuls and elders gathered to discuss
and contitute laws.
Palazzo dei Priori
The palace was designed by Maestro Riccardo in 1239 as the inscription near the main
The three-storey fašade adorned with trilobed ,double arched windows and the Della Robbia
glazed terracotta coats of arms of the Florentine magistrates (15th-16th centuries) also
bears the canna volterrana, the medieval standard measurement of the commune, engraved
between the banner and torch holders.
The two Marzocco lions ,a symbol of Florence were added in 1472 when the palazzo became
the seat of the Captain of Justice.
The pentagonal shaped tower is not completely original for the top half was rebuilt after
the last earthquake in 1846 by the architect Mazzei who also embellished other buildings
in the main square.
The entrance decorated with coats of arms leads to the stairway and a fresco of the
Crucifixiion with saints by Pier Francesco Fiorentino who also painted the Crucifixion in
the mayors antechamber. The Virgin with child has been attributed to Raffaellino del
The magnificent Council Hall with a cross vaulted ceiling exhibits the fresco of The
Annunciation and four saints, Cosmas ,Damian, Giusto and Ottaviano, painted by Jacopo di
Cione and Nicol˛ di Pietro Gerini.While the fresco was being transferred onto canvas ,
the sinopia now displayed in the antechamber , were discovered.
On the right wall, The Marriage Feast at Cana, a large canvas painted by Donato Mascagni
in the 16th century.
In the antechamber, the Sala della Giunta , wood panel of Persius Flaccus by Cosimo Daddi,
a fresco tranferred to canvas of S,Girolomo , two small canvas paintings by Giandomenico
Ferretti (18th century)
depicting The Adoration of the Magi , Birth of the Virgin by Ignazio Hugford and a canvas
of Giobe by Donato Mascagni .
and the tower of little pig
This palace made up of several buidings and modified in the 19th century was origianally
the seat of the podestÓ and the captain of the people. The tower considered to be one of
first towers built in Volterra is traditionally known as the Tower of the Little Pig for
at the top of the tower there is a stone animal poised on a shelf.
This palace originally built as a grain
store became the bishops residence after 1472 when the Palazzo dei Vescovi was
destroyed by the Florentines to make way for the fortress.
The great arches have been attributed to Antonio da San Gallo the Elder.
Now the Cassa di Risparmio di Volterra
(the local bank), the palace is both Medieval and Rennaissance as recent restoration work
After the Council of Trent the palace was a seminary until the end of the 18th century.
Palazzo del Monte Pio
The palace was embellished this century
to blend in with the medieval style of the Piazza but
is in fact 13th century. The original construction can still be seen at the rear of the
building in the vicolo Mazzoni.