||The cathedral dedicated to
the Assumption Mary was reconstructed in about 1120 on the site of a preexisting church
dedicated to the Holy Mary. The Romanesque fašade is interposed by the geometric intarsia
marble framework of the main entrance added in the 13th century and attributed by Vasari
to Nicola Pisano.
The interior was completely modified from 1580 - 1584 when Bishop Serguidi
enthusiastically adhered to the new reforms laid down by the Council of Trent.
Athough in late Rennaissance style, the cathedral still preserves the Romanesque latin
and a nave flanked by two aisles.The columns dividing the nave from the aisles were
decorated in stucco by Gianpaolo Rossetti and the capitals by Leonardo Ricciarelli.
The six altars framed by a sculptured frieze in Montecatini stone date to the beginning of
the 16th century
The gilded coffered ceiling, richly and colourfully decorated, was designed by Francesco
Capriani, carved by Jacopo Pavolini of Castelfiorentino and gilded by Fulvo della Tuccia.
The Holy Ghost in the centre is surrounded by the sculptured busts of saintsUgo, Giusto,
Pope Linus, Clemente, Attinea and Greciniana and above the altar the Assumption Mary with
saints Vittore and Ottaviano.
The coats of arms of the Medici family, the
Serguidi and the Commune of Volterra surmount the triumphal arch and an inscription
commemorates the execution of the ceiling thanks to the benevolent generosity of the Grand
duke, the solicitude of the bishop and the consent of the citizens.
When the balustrade was dismantled,the pulpit was reconstructed and the romanesque windows
were filled in and replaced by rectangular windows.
Further restoration work was carried out from 1842-43; the walls were painted in white and
grey stripes the flooring was relaid in black and white marble, the stucco columns were
painted to simulate red granite and at the Bishops expense, the presbytery was added
by the architect Aristodemo Solaini.
After a fire, the transept was restored from 1842-43 in gothic style, tufa stonewalls and
four steps on either side, to the regretful loss of the 16th century organ.
On the left of the entrance: Funeral monument of
Franceso Gaetano Incontri , the archbishop of Florence; the bust was sculptured by
Arisdemo Costoli (19th century) while the design and ornamentation was executed by Mariano
Falcini. Below the monument, the eight marble intarsia panels, originally part of the 12th
century balustrade were beautifully carved by Pisan and Florentine artisans.
The Giorgi Chapel. Wood panel depicting The Offering of Volterra to the Virgin
painted by Pieter de Witte in 1587 commissioned by Captain Francesco del Bovino of the
Giorgi family who appears in the left-hand corner of the painting.
The Collaini Chapel. Wood panel of the Birth of the Virgin by Francesco Curradi
The Perissi Chapel. Wood panel of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple by
Giovan Battista Naldini painted in 1590.
The Chapel of San Carlo. Above the door a wood panel of the Crucifixion with the
Virgin, Saints John, Anthony Abbot, Francis and Augustine painted by Francesco Curradi in
1611. Above the altar, similar to those designed by Vasari ,a canvas painting of the
Ecstasy of Saint Carlo Borromeo before the Virgin by Jacopo Chimenti ( known as Empoli).
On the side walls Saint Mary Magdelan of Scolaro by Guido Reni and The Immaculate
Conception by Francesco Brini.
The Serguidi Chapel. Attributed to Vasari, the chapel was completed in 1595,
decorated in stucco by Leonardo Ricciarelli and painted by Giovanni Balducci. Above the
altar, a wood panel of the Resurrection of Lazarus by Santi di Tito painted in 1592. On
the side walls, two canvas paintings by Giovanni Balducci 1591 The Expulsion of the
Infedels from the temple and the Parable of the Loaves and Fishes.
Deposition of the cross by a Volterran artist
Chapel of the Deposition. A magnificent
group of five wooden polychrome figures representing the Deposition of Christ from the
cross executed in 1228 by an unknown Volterran artist.
The Chapel of Saint Ottaviano, A sarcophagus, containing the remains of the hermit
saint, executed in 1522 by Raffaele Cioli from Settignano as a sign of gratitude at the
cessation of a plague ; the angel candle holders on either side are by Andrea Ferrucci.
The Maggiore chapel and choir. The rectory stalls are the work of Francesco del
Tonghio and Adreoccio di Bartolomeo while the 15th century fine intarsia bishops
throne and the chaplain benches are the work of Tuscan masters.The fresco on the ceiling
above the choir is the only one remaining of a series of frescoes of the Life of the
Virgin painted by Niccol˛ Cercignani in 1585 .
The marble altar , executed at the beginning of the 19th century, is surmounted by a
marble ciborium sculptured by Mino da Fiesole in 1471.On either side of the altar stand
two ornate13th century marble columns with Corinthian capitals surmounted by two
genuflecting angels bearing a candle holder, attributed to Mino da Fiesole.
The Chapel of Saint Ugo. The bishop saint of Volterra ,Ugo dei Saladini, rests in
the marble sarcophagus commisioned by Ludovico Incontri in 1644.
The Chapel of the Madonna dei Chierici. The wood statue of the Virgin and Child
donated by Maestro Jacopo di Ciglio, known as il Barbialla is an early work of Francesco
di Valdambrino executed at the beginning of the 15th century.
The Chapel of Saint Paul and the Inghirami family. Rich in a variety of marble, the
chapel was built for Admiral Jacopo Inghirami and designed by Alessandro Pieroni .
Giovanni Mannozzi known as Giovanni from S.Giovanni painted the frescoes relating the
story of the life of saint Paul on the ceiling. The Baptistry of Volterra appears ,as an
interesting detail, in the scene of the procession to Damascus in the lunette
above the altar while on the right are four members of the Inghirami family one of whom is
admiral Jacopo conversing.
On the walls, surrounded by frames executed by Nero di Porta Venere, a canvas of The
Mission of St. Paul in Damascus by Matteo Roselli and the Beheading of St. Paul painted on
canvas by Domenico Zampieri,( il Domenichino), in 1623.
Above the door to the rectory a canvas of The Immaculate Conception with saints by Cosimo
Daddi (16th century.)
The Chapel of Verani. Wood panel of the Immaculate Conception painted by Nicol˛
Cercignani, known as il Pomaracino in 1586.
The Pulpit. The three reliefs of The Last Supper, The Annunciation and the
Sacrifice of Isaac and the lions at the base of the columns are undoubtedly 12th century
works of the Gugliemo school.. The other elements and the intarsia alabaster were added in
1584, the year in which the balustrade was dismantled and the pulpit was recomposed
Chapel of the Annunciation. Wood panel of The Annunciation by Maria di Mariotto
Albertinelli in collaboration with Bartolomeo della Porta who painted the angel in 1497 as
the inscription in charcoal behind the painting attests .
The Chapel of Saint Sebastian. Wood panel of the Martydom of St Sebastian painted
by Francesco Cungi di Borgo S.Sepolcro in 1588.
The Funeral Monument of Mario Maffei. The prelate dressed in his finery in a
dormant pose on the sarcophagus was executed by Giovan Angelo Montorsoli, one of
Michelangelos assistents and commissioned by members of his family ,Guido and Poalo
Riccobaldi del Bava who wished to erect a memorial to the benevolent, renowned humanist
and bishop of Cavaillon who died in Volterra in 1537.
The Oratory of the Virgin Mary. Two niches, closed by 17th century wraught iron
gates, contain The Nativity with a background fresco of the Journey of the Magi by Benozzo
Gozzoli on the left and the Epiphany on the right. These terracotta painted figures,of
almost natural size, have recently been attributed to Giovanni della Robbia.
The Chapel of SS Nome. An elegant architectonical 16th century frame preserves the
monogram of Christ donated to Volterra by San Bernardino of Siena encased in a precious
silver 18th century shrine.
The Sacresty. Reliqueries surmounted by baldachins and intarsia arches, probably
part of a choir executed by Gaspare di Nando di Pelliccione from Colle Val DElsa in
1423. A large 17th century cabinet in the form of an altar contains the precious silver
reliquary busts of the Volterran saints. Intarsia cabinets with geometric designs and a
15th century white marble sink.