Tuscan cuisine: typical traditional dishes

Tuscan cuisine: typical traditional dishes

Tuscany is among the best known regions of Italy in the world, thanks to its artistic vein and the sense of inspiration it manages to instill in anyone who visits it. The landscape that the countryside offers is also very popular, not to mention the many towns with Renaissance features that offer a breathtaking atmosphere. This is what awaits tourists visiting Tuscany, but there is another aspect that should not be underestimated: the cuisine. Yes, because every self-respecting holiday has the moment of relaxation, that of the visit and that of good food. Today we want to catapult you on an imaginary table, on which the typical dishes of this wonderful region are present, so as to offer a general overview of the foods that must absolutely be tried, in case you are on holiday in Tuscany. From first courses, to desserts, from classic to vegetarian cuisine, behind the Tuscan stoves there is something for all tastes and, of course, you will not be disappointed or, even worse, with an empty stomach.

Florentine steak

The list of typical Tuscan dishes has the moral obligation to start with the queen of all meats: the Florentine steak. Her fame precedes her, to the point that when ordering, it is not even necessary to call her with her suit, but only with Florentine. There are two basic requirements for an excellent Florentine steak: an excellent cut of meat and strictly rare cooking. The preparation is very simple, all you have to do is put the steak on the grill and cook on the grill, without flame and without piercing the meat to let the cooked fat escape. Five minutes on each side are enough, adding salt first on one side and then on the other.


This dish triggers the parochialism of every Tuscan and is, together with the aforementioned Florentine steak, the emblem of the Tuscan cooker. We apologize to all Tuscans, but we will mention only the two main variants, namely the cacciucco alla viareggina and alla livornese.
The cacciucco is a fish soup and it is not at all easy to proceed with the preparation of this dish. The fish used in the preparation of this soup is defined as poor, that is crustaceans and molluscs of all kinds, from cuttlefish, octopus and cicadas. The difficulty lies in cooking, as they must all be cooked in the same pan, but each at different times. Once cooked, the dish should be served together with bread cooked in the form of bruschetta and tomato sauce; the ideal is to accompany it with a glass of red wine.

Pappa al pomodoro

From Gianburrasca’s Diary to the voice of the great Rita Pavone, pappa al pomodoro has entered the homes of all Italians, but it is a typical dish of the Tuscan tradition. As simple as it is good, pappa al pomodoro was born in a historical context in which there was a need to minimize food waste. Three simple ingredients that, when combined, give a unique flavor: stale bread; tomato and extra virgin olive oil. The ideal is to taste the tomato soup with salt-free bread, as in the Tuscan tradition, and serve a dish with the basic ingredients, perhaps adding garlic, basil and a pinch of chilli. Simple, but mouth-watering.


Let’s go back to talking about meat-based meals. The sandwich, in Tuscany, has an undisputed king: the sandwich with lampredotto. Typical of Florentine culture, also thanks to the kiosks that serve it, the sandwich with lampredotto is a dish for those who are not afraid of strong flavors. It involves cooking the abomasum, that is one of the stomachs of cattle, in water, together with the tomato, onion, celery and parsley. Once cooked, it should be placed in a sandwich and enjoyed together with some green sauce.

Lardo di Colonnata

To stay on the subject of dish to combine with bread or sandwiches, let’s talk about the Lardo di Colonnata. Produced in the province of Massa Carrara, this salami is PGI, a protected geographical indication and is left to mature in basins of Carrara marble. Reducing the tasting of Lardo di Colonnata to bread alone would be too reductive for a product that also goes well with vegetables, legumes and, for the more daring, even with fish. The maturation of lard is true art and poetry and also hides a veil of mystery. Only the positioning inside the marble basins is known, after which the salami is flavored with garlic, cloves, pepper, rosemary, cinnamon and coriander.


Returning to vegetarian dishes, it is a must to mention the Tuscan soup par excellence: the ribollita. Dish to be served in winter, as it is served very hot, its main ingredient is black cabbage, a vegetable that grows in winter. Typical of the peasant tradition, it is a dish made up of simple ingredients, but with a high nutritional value. In addition to black cabbage, ribollita is also prepared with beans, onions and carrots. As the name suggests, the dish is cooked at first, and then boiled. At the end of cooking, extra virgin olive oil and fresh onion are added to the dish, all accompanied by bread.


Let’s get to the desserts. Yes, because Tuscan cuisine does not miss anything.
An autumnal dessert, due to its main ingredient, is castagnaccio. As the name indicates, it is made with chestnut flour and pine nuts, rosemary and raisins and, very often, candied orange peel are added to the preparation.

Cake with bischeri

Born in the area of ​​Pisa and its province, the shortcrust pastry and a filling rich in sweetness give life to an exquisite cake, typical of the Tuscan tradition: the Torta co ‘bischeri. The name is given by the folds of the edges that are created with the shortcrust pastry; the filling is made up of chocolate, boiled rice, Tuscan liqueur, fresh pine nuts, candied fruit and peel, eggs, raisins and a touch of nutmeg. Tradition has it that this cake was served to pilgrims traveling to Pontasserchio, in the province of Pisa, to venerate the Crucifix of the Miracle.

Casa Bicocchi and the Warriors Exhibition

Casa Bicocchi and the Warriors Exhibition

The municipality of Pomarance is in the province of Pisa and is part of the Unione Montana Alta Valle di Cecina. A town with an important history, its foundation is attested since the time of the Etruscans, and then became a Roman center first, and then a medieval one, also of considerable importance, thanks to the period of splendor of the entire Tuscany region.

Rich in points of interest with religious architecture of exquisite workmanship, including the Hermitage of San Michele alle Formiche and the various churches scattered in the surrounding hamlets, even the civil architecture denote a very pregnant artistic vein of the small town. Among these are the two theaters of the municipality, the Teatro de Larderel and the Teatro dei Coraggiosi.

The Bicocchi House, dating back to the 19th century, is also very important. The Bicocchi family was a family of the rich Tuscan bourgeoisie, magistrates by profession, they were originally from and resided in the municipality of Pomarance, where they built their own home, to live a comfortable and luxurious life. It became the property of the municipality of Pomarance in 1980, after the purchase made by the family heirs.

Casa Bicocchi is the emblem of bourgeois life in the nineteenth century. It is perfectly preserved, as well as the rich furnishings inside, embellished by the decorated ceilings and sumptuous furnishings. The highly aristocratic furnishings, the refinement of the decorations, the use of French fabrics and wallpapers underline the enormous wealth of a family, the Bicocchi family, who held important positions and of every task throughout the municipal land of Pomarance. : from the municipal administration, to the glass industry, to huge landholdings.

Like any self-respecting noble house, moreover, if it has remained uninhabited for long periods, it brings with it a veil of mystery and ultra-land. Ethereal presences? Suggestion?
The fact is that many visitors, after completing a tour inside Casa Bicocchi, claimed to have heard complaints and noises coming from the innermost rooms of the house. According to what visitors tell, these noises come from the red room of the house, so as to quickly spread the legend of the presence of the ghost of Casa Bicocchi that populates the rooms of the majestic residence. To fuel this legend there is also the story of a guest of a hotel in Tuscany who claims to have heard, in the middle of the night, a melody played on the piano coming from Casa Bicocchi.

Legends aside, the house was used as a museum by the municipal administration, which set up the rooms on the ground floor and the first noble floor.

As previously mentioned, the municipality of Pomarance has firm roots in history. The first moments of life are attested even in the Paleolithic. This news reaches us thanks to the permanent exhibition of Casa Bicocchi, set up inside the historic and opulent halls of Palazzo Ricci. The exhibition is dedicated to the Warriors and Artisans, of which, historically, the town of Pomarance was rich. In fact, the majority of the population was divided between warriors and artisans, since ancient times. The permanent exhibition extends into the six sumptuous rooms of Palazzo Ricci and guides the visitor on a chronological path that starts from the Paleolithic age up to the Renaissance period. In this way, the visitor finds himself immersed in the incredible streak of a small town, but which has always had a fundamental value during the course of history, thanks to its strategic position and the ability to easily find raw materials for construction. of weapons.

Moving among the display cases of the Warriors and Artisans exhibition, you can see some valuable robes and refined artifacts that explain how, the citizens of Pomarance, are very attached to customs, customs and traditions that have been rooted since the dawn of time and that have been handed down over the years, remaining alive in the common imagination. Not only customs and traditions, but a large number of finds of great stylistic value are on display.

An example is the Ciottolo di Lustignano, a magnificent work dating back to prehistoric times in Tuscany, one of the first depictions made on an artifact by a man is engraved on it. On the Pebble of Lustignano, found in a necropolis in the surrounding places, stands the image of a bison, probably the work was carried out, perhaps to celebrate a rich hunting expedition: hunting a bison, guaranteed an enormous quantity of food and skins for the whole community.

Another valuable price is present in room number 2 of the museum: the Etruscan Stele of Pomarance. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the stele stands out in the room, flanked by display cases containing a large number of weapons and objects. The stele, of renowned importance in the findings of the Etruscan world, bears the engraved figure of a man armed with a long knife, the machaira. According to some scholars, given the size of the knife, the man represented is a warrior, according to another line of thought, it depicts a priest holding a sacrificial instrument, the machaira. Room number 4 contains finds of Roman origin, including a fine statuette depicting Jupiter Sylvan and a Roman epigraph, dating back to the second century after Christ, of the Roman Knight Marius Montanus. The other rooms are occupied by a video representation on the history of the Rocca Sillana and on the thermal complex of Etruscan-Roman origin found a few kilometers from Pomarance, precisely in Bagno, in the municipality of Sasso Pisano.

From Volterra to discover Tuscany on a Vespa

From Volterra to discover Tuscany on a Vespa

The Vespa has been a typically Italian status symbol since 1946, always used to roam the busy city streets or to take pleasant trips out of town. The Tuscan countryside, on the other hand, is one of the most enchanting landscapes of the Belpaese, with rows of cypresses and rolling hills dotted here and there with vineyards and ancient farmhouses. The combination of Vespa and Tuscany offers a fantastic opportunity to travel at a slow pace, with the possibility of enjoying the views with the wind in your face.
From the beautiful Volterra you can reach some of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany, where characters such as Dante and Lorenzo the Magnificent have left an indelible mark.

It starts from Volterra

The starting point of this Vespa tour to discover Tuscany is our Hotel in Volterra, with a golden past that was seen by one of the Etruscan lacumonies. The medieval aspect of the town is almost intact, surrounded by ancient walls on which six doors open, the oldest of which is the Porta all’Arco: dating back to the 5th century, it is made of tuff blocks and you can still see the three heads presumably of Pollux, Castor and Jupiter.
By parking your Vespa you can discover the historic center of Volterra on foot and admire the beauty of Piazza dei Priori, with the homonymous building from 1239 which, complete with battlements and slits, inspired the Florentine Palazzo della Signoria.
Not far away is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta whose simple Romanesque facade contrasts with the richness of the interior where the works of Della Robbia and Benozzo Gozzoli stand out. In front of the church stands the Baptistery, with its characteristic marble facade with green and white bands: inside there is a sixteenth-century baptismal font by Sansovino.
A visit to the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum allows you to observe treasures such as the sinuous Shadow of the Night statuette and the Urn of the Spouses, or the lid of a sarcophagus decorated with the sculptures of a reclining couple. The Pinacoteca, on the other hand, located inside the Minucci-Solaini Palace, houses works by Antonio San Gallo, Ghirlandaio and a collection of Medici coins.

A visit to the Camaldolese Abbey

Getting back on the Vespa, it is advisable to take the SP15, a fairly fast and very green road, towards the Badia Camaldolese: before reaching it, on the road you will at a certain point notice a large stone with a slightly left shape. This is the Masso di Mandringa, a place that legend indicates as a haunt of witches. In fact, the place is mentioned by D’Annunzio himself as the source that feeds the Docciola sources: parking the Vespa and approaching the boulder, in fact, you will notice a small staircase and a thirteenth-century arch that lead straight to this medieval source.
Continuing along the SP15 you will therefore reach the Camaldolese Abbey dating back to 1034, one of the few monasteries left standing by the erosion of the surrounding friable clay soils that gave rise to gullies called Balze. Well, the Abbey appears almost like a solitary hermitage of which the refectory can be visited in particular, with valuable frescoes and the cloister still visible: the latter still bears old engravings and symbols on capitals and architraves, as well as grates on the floor that reveal in the basement Etruscan and Roman remains.

From Volterra to Colle Val d’Elsa

Returning to Volterra, you can enter the famous Volterrana, the oldest road that crosses Tuscany together with the Via Francigena. Otherwise known as SR68, this route offers a pleasant experience, between bends and hairpin bends that cut through the hills of the Valdelsa, in a pleasant and panoramic ups and downs.
Therefore, traveling eastwards along the Volterrana on a Vespa, you first cross the Etruscan Acropolis and then the Medici Fortress of 1475: this citadel consists of an old fortress of 1342 commissioned by Gualtieri VI of Brienne and the Keep built instead on the order of Lorenzo de ‘ Medici, now home to a prison.
Continuing along the Volterrana you reach Colle Val d’Elsa, a village that has gone down in history due to the struggles of 1269 between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. The village, which was the birthplace of the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, has a long tradition in glass processing, so much so that it is nicknamed “The Bohemia of Italy”: a visit to the Crystal Museum allows you to admire both elegant artifacts and works glass masters, but also old and new working techniques.
A panoramic lift takes you to Colle Alta, the historic center of Colle Val d’Elsa which has kept its medieval imprint intact: from the belvedere you can enjoy the most beautiful view of the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

From Monteriggioni to San Gimignano

From Colle Val d’Elsa you can reach Monteriggioni by Vespa, a very small village of a few houses surrounded by thirteenth-century walls dotted with 14 turrets. It is an excellent example of medieval architecture practically never conquered and defined by Dante in the Divine Comedy “Monteriggioni di Torri si Corona“. In addition to a visit to the central Piazza Roma and the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta overlooking it, a walk on the walkways is recommended, where everything has remained as it was more than 8 centuries ago, so much so that it seems that at any moment a armiger in defense of the city.
Getting back on your Vespa and returning to the SR68 towards Volterra, you can detour along the SP36 which, between vineyards and soft hills, leads directly to San Gimignano. Approaching the final destination of the tour in Tuscany, the profile of the beautiful town is revealed, with its towers symbolizing the power of the families of the time.
Piazza Duomo is a feast for the eyes with the same towers framing the Duomo, inside which is the Chapel of Santa Fina frescoed by Ghirlandaio, and the Palazzo del Podestà, also home to the Civic Museum. Piazza della Cisterna is also very scenic, located with its octagonal well and its medieval buildings such as Palazzo Tortoli, in the shadow of the legendary Torre del Diavolo. After so much wandering, there is nothing better than choosing an inn in San Gimignano and enjoying its cuisine, washed down with a glass of excellent Vernaccia, also so loved by Lorenzo the Magnificent, Boccaccio and Dante.

Ecomuseum of Alabaster – Volterra

Ecomuseum of Alabaster – Volterra

The municipality of Volterra is located in Tuscany, in the province of Pisa. The center is renowned for the extraction and processing of alabaster and has a history that can be compared to the most important centers in the area. It was one of the twelve most important centers of the Etruscan city-states and played an important role throughout the historical period of the Middle Ages, as it was a bishopric and its lordship dominated a large territory of the Tuscan hills.
And it is precisely in the hills that the project of the widespread museum of the province of Pisa was born, trying to emphasize as much as possible a great fortune in the Cecina valley area. The project brings together the municipalities of Volterra, Castellina Marittima and Santa Luce, or the towns that are most closely linked to the artisanal production and artistic tradition of a very precious stone: alabaster.

Our Hotel in Volterra is full of sculptures made in this very precious material.

The Alabaster Ecomuseum unfolds in two distinct itineraries, which embrace two different territorial areas. These itineraries are connected by as many thematic museums, which are located in the towns of Volterra and Castellina Marittima. The itineraries embrace the themes of alabaster excavation, developed in the museum of Castellina Marittima, and the theme of the processing and marketing of alabaster, with reference to the museum center of Volterra, to which the Area Archive is connected inside of the tunnel of the Massetto quarry, in the Marmolaio Valley. The museum of Santa Luce, the third museum district of the project, has a very important role, given by the Santa Luce Area Archive, which enriches the path on the excavation.

The location of the Alabaster Ecomuseum of Volterra offers a unique and inimitable visiting experience. The route winds through the internal rooms of the Medieval Minucci Tower, adjacent to the Municipal Art Gallery. In this museum, the visitor does not limit himself to observing the finds in the display cases, but makes a real journey, through real testimonies, in the artisanal and artistic production of alabaster, a stone so dear to the citizens of Volterra, with a particular look to the technical aspect, passing through the care in the choice of materials, to the processing techniques, with an eye also to the stylistic characteristics of the processing and to the economic and social impact that alabaster has had for the whole area. The history of alabaster processing has very deep historical roots, in fact, as can be seen from the works in the Ecomuseum, the first processing dates back to the Etruscan era.

And it is precisely the Etruscan era that the two most significant objects of the entire collection placed in the rooms of the Tower of Palazzo Minucci refer to. We are talking about two cinerary urns, obviously in alabaster, which represent human figures in a convivial position, that is lying on a triclinium bed, that is where the meal was consumed in antiquity, and below, carved in low relief and almost with figures in the round , moments in the life of the subject to whom the urn was dedicated. Definitely valuable pieces, which have comparisons only with cinerary urns, also in alabaster, present in Vatican museums. Since the production and processing of alabaster occupies the entire period of life of the city of Volterra, there are also works produced during the medieval era, with two capitals that represent a unicum of alabaster production throughout the Middle Ages. Continuing the visit in the remaining rooms of the Minucci Tower, the historical-productive-cultural path on the alabaster reaches the sculptures of undoubted beauty of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a careful look at the collection of medallions by Albino Funaioli, a well-known sculptor of the 1800s, from Volterra who created, among other things, also some valuable bas-reliefs in alabaster. The visit continues with the opportunity to appreciate the works of the contemporary artist Raffaello Consortini, modern vate of alabaster sculpture, who died in 2000. In the last room of the museum there is a representation of a workshop of an expert craftsman in alabaster processing ; in this way, the visitor is offered the opportunity to see all the tools used from the extraction to the processing of this fantastic and precious stone which is alabaster up close.

The Alabaster Ecomuseum is the perfect starting point for appreciating the entire urban itinerary of Volterra, without limiting oneself to the find alone, but looking for evidence, even present, of a timeless tradition, on which the city of Volterra has founded their economic and social roots.

Peasant Civilization Museum – Montecastelli Pisano

Peasant Civilization Museum – Montecastelli Pisano

Montecastelli Pisano is a hilly town located in Tuscany in the territory of Pisa, precisely in the municipality of Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, known for the riches of its soil and for the history of its peasant inhabitants who have cultivated and made this splendid land flourish.
The peasant tradition has affected the history of this small Pisan fraction so much that the town has decided to open a museum in honor of the peasant civilization.

Peasant Civilization Museum: origin

Built in 1985, the Museum of Peasant Civilization is characterized by having on display rudimentary and artisanal peasant material donated by the citizens themselves.
More than 500 objects that historically can be traced back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
An important tribute to those who with their agricultural and manual skills have made the history of this hilly area.
A peasant tradition, poor but virtuous.
The characteristic, in fact, that distinguishes this monumental complex from others is the idea behind the project: it was born by the will of the inhabitants of Montecastelli Pisano themselves in order to celebrate men and women who with their hands and the use of tools rudimentary have created a peasant artisan art handed down for generations.

Peasant Civilization Museum: exhibition rooms

The museum presents a collection of approximately 500 objects typical of the rural world belonging to two historical periods, in particular, the 19th and 20th centuries.
All the utensils and tools were donated by the inhabitants of the town in order to allow them to be appreciated by other fellow citizens and tourists.
By peasant tradition we do not mean only the mere working of the land, but all the traditional crafts and here you can admire objects used in carpentry, by cobblers, weavers, etc.
A journey through history along two rooms, in which the objects are exhibited as well as preserved.
The descriptions make the story behind each tool even more suggestive, a way to open your eyes to the peasant world and to an evolution developed over the centuries, to understand how much the earth has been the result of hard work made of love and rudimentary tools. .
The tools include not only the tools used to work the land but also those of some trades, some still existing others a distant recourse such as the equipment used by carpenters, saddlers, cobblers etc …
The museum is divided in such a way as to follow a historical path that allows you to reconstruct over the centuries the processing stage of ancient crafts including yarns.

Peasant Civilization Museum: location

For those wishing to visit the Museum, just go to Montecastelli Pisano, the Museum stands inside a very artistic and rudimentary structure, that is, it is housed in the walls of the city itself.
All located in an area on the ground floor, the rooms are divided into areas, according to the instruments on display and the historical periods they belong to.

Suggestive location, ideal for the very nature of the exhibits, it is certainly an alternative idea of ​​a museum.
Those who want more information can consult the Terra di Pisa website where they can find info on costs, timetables and prices of the Museum of Rural Life, by accessing the following link: “https://www.terredipisa.it/attrazione/castelnuovo -val-cecina-museo-peasant-civilization / “

Larderello Geothermal Museum

Larderello Geothermal Museum

If you are looking for a good geothermal museum to visit in Tuscany, then you can’t just ignore the possibilities offered by the magnificent structure of Larderello. It is a Geothermal Museum with a deep history behind it, so much so that it was founded in the late 1950s and has since become a real point of reference for all those who want to give themselves the opportunity to admire various artifacts related to world of geothermal energy. This museum is located on the ground floor of the famous Palazzo de ‘Larderel, which has now also been renovated, thus offering all visitors the opportunity to admire all the exhibits in a much simpler and more immediate way. Currently, a temporary solution has been prepared in the Larderello Geothermal Power Museum to accommodate the many guests who come to this museum every year. In fact, the things to see are by no means few, since the exhibition in this museum focuses on everything related to geothermal energy and its exploitation. All interested parties are shown numerous research techniques and also different methods of drilling the ground using particular models. All the objects in the exhibition are beautiful to admire, as they are handled by real professionals in the sector.

But it is not simply a traditional museum, as one might think. The one in Larderello is a multimedia Geothermal Museum that provokes the interaction of all guests in order to make them better understand what the geothermal phenomenon is, its possible industrial developments and much more. Both those who already have considerable knowledge of the field and absolute beginners in the sector can find many interesting things. This museum, in fact, can also be interesting for professionals who want to deepen their knowledge. This museum also represents an excellent introduction to the Larderello area. And if any particular object on display is not completely clear or if you want to find out more about everything related to the objects that are located there, it will be possible to request information from the local staff. The latter will be happy to help all guests in their knowledge increase on the various objects closely related to the world of geothermal energy. Only those who can be considered to all intents and purposes as real experts in the field work there.

Obviously, each object placed on the display of this model is also equipped with a plate with the text that can remove all doubts from the various guests who read it. In addition, the exhibition was professionally curated, in all its parts, paying attention to all the details. In this way, visitors to the Larderello Geothermal Museum will be able to have all the information they need at hand without any problems. The multimedia of this museum, then, also allows a greater immersion of visitors in the world related to the geothermal discipline.

The very territory on which the museum in question is located really has a lot to offer to guests. In fact, Larderello is an area full of curiosities, as well as a beautiful history behind it. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the Palazzo de ‘Larderel is 100% immersed in an incredible natural setting and the Geothermal Museum is just the entrance to this magnificent place. Furthermore, this museum can be visited by both children and adults.

It is often believed that museums like this can only be visited by adults. However, the Larderello Geothermal Museum is an interactive and fun place for children as well. The little ones here will find a wide range of fun things to know about geothermal energy. There are many children who would like to come to this museum again to be able to relive all the adventures and beautiful moments of the place again.

However, before going to the Geothermal Museum, it is advisable to book the tickets necessary for the visit. This can be done by calling the Geothermal Museum on +39 0588 67724 or by writing an email to museogeotermia@idealcoop.com.

If you are interested in visiting the entire Tuscan territory, taking Volterra as a reference point, come and discover our Hotel in Tuscany.

Torture Museum in Volterra

Torture Museum in Volterra

The “Museum of Torture and the Death Penalty” is a large exhibition that features five Permanent Museums (San Gimignano, Siena, Volterra, Lucca and Multipulciano) on Italian soil. Although the instruments and documentaries exhibited vary widely among them, the “Museum of Torture and the Death Penalty” wants to underline its nature as a signal, an invitation to memory and a warning so that the horrors of the past can no longer be repeated; for this reason, a connection is sometimes made to some parts of the world, although civilized, directly concerned (see, below, the example of the Electric Chair).

Our Hotel in Volterra is located a few minutes from the museum and is the ideal place to leave for a journey to discover Tuscany.

The Permanent Museum of Volterra, also known as the “Medieval Criminal Museum” retains the same function not only documentary but also humanitarian and social, and in its rooms, small but wide-ranging, it shows the most varied techniques of medieval torture, together with real and own instruments of death and particularly rare documents of the Holy Inquisition.

The Torture Museum stands in the heart of the Etruscan and later medieval Volterra, on Piazza XX Settembre, which it overlooks. Accompanied by immersive backgrounds and well-reconstructed settings, this Museum is appreciated by the academic plethora not only for its clear and valid explanations, but also and above all for the tools it includes, unique in the world. It is not necessary to emphasize, in fact, through bloody or horrifying reconstructions, the message that the Museum itself carries, since the tools, in wood or metal, silent pillars of the past, already testify by themselves. The impact on visitors is strong, especially as regards the mental reconstruction of those moments in those who pass by, letting their clothes rustle: the pain of a dark and unknown past immediately becomes an imaginary contrite actuality.

The path inside the Torture Museum winds under stone arches in order to recall the underground setting, and consists of a corridor that therefore widens into a much larger space. Notable tools are immediately the “bipedal iron cage”, belonging to the seventeenth century, and the “wooden hanging cage”, built between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the insertion, in both of them, of a skeleton with cut-off legs at knee height is suggestive and impressive and lets the tools, from the pure iron material with which they were built, embrace the true purpose for which they were used.

Furthermore, the “Barbed Collar” is one of the most famous tools due to its very shape: equipped with spikes on all sides, it tightened the victim’s neck with its five kilograms. The lethal collapse was reached in a short time, due to the erosion up to the bones of the flesh of the neck, the progressive breaking of the bones of the jaw and shoulders, the rampant gangrene and, finally, the erosion of the bare bones.

The “Inquisitorial Chair” therefore welcomes visitors with its grandeur and horror: the inquisitor’s fundamental tool, he forcibly introduced the naked tortured into it, so that the straps would gradually tighten his flesh. The interrogation was simultaneously carried out using the rocking of the chair itself or with beating directly on the already injured limbs. Sometimes the floor could also be burning by means of coals or a torch. The modern parallel of combining the “Inquisitoria Chair” with today’s electric chairs is certainly a sad but effective one.

Furthermore, the “Virgin of Nuremberg” is one of the instruments that bears the name of the large wing that contains it, together with other instruments of female torture (such as the “Chastity Belt” or the “Chain Scourge”). The “Virgin of Nuremberg” refers to the stories of the anthropomorphic sarcophagus with two doors, which had purely Egyptian origin, but adding a dense network of quills inside it so as to penetrate the flesh of the victim once the two doors are closed, in the body of the victim. The name “Nuremberg” derives from the most famous example, the “Iron Maiden”, destroyed in 1944 by bombing. In reality, only in that case, it is possible that the quills could be relocated between the doors or the interior of the sarcophagus itself, according to how the unfortunate victim was to be punished.

It is certainly heartbreaking to think that all these tortures were not limited only to adults: in the interior of the Museum, intact, there is an instrument called “Cavallino Per Punizione”, used to heavily whip children tied to it, using a childish image and dear to the family and the home.

The rooms and rooms follow one another quickly in a gloomy and gloomy atmosphere that accentuates even more the restlessness whispered by the tools of torture.

All about the tools and the museum itself, but what are we talking about when it comes to torture?
http://www.torturemuseum.it/la-mostra/. Called “The Worst Face of Man”
from the Museum of Torture and the Death Penalty, was already present in abundance in antiquity and in all human cultures and is therefore “a method of physical or psychological coercion, inflicted with the aim of punishing or extorting information or of confessions. ”

However, a double moral question arises: whether everyone is ready to condemn and repudiate torture in all its justifications, theoretical or even less practical, because it continually reappears among the various human cultures, changing shape, name and motivations, so much so that it seems that is something inherent in human nature?

It would seem that the truth is precisely that then, since his condemnation does not hold up as a historical fact or anthropologically limited to a fixed place. The more evolution progresses, be it political or moral, the more torture comes to the surface, without ever being overcome, and it does not require particular socio-religious environments.
And for this reason, the “Worst Face of Man”: derives from the pleasure for the pain of others, which characterizes all human beings, according to the historian called “homo homini lupus” (“man is a wolf for the man “, from Plautus, Asinaria, a. II, sc. IV, v. 495). It comes from the history of human wickedness.

The Torture Museum of Volterra is worth its entry also and above all for this reason: to become aware, to clash with the worst that the human soul and mind have ever been able to concoct, and, finally, to reflect on what is still there. ties, today, to it, passing from the Electric Chair already mentioned and then to the torture against women: if the most varied accusations could be addressed in the Middle Ages (from chastity to witchcraft practices), still today and in certain areas in fact, the tools of the world have changed but never extinguished, and stoning or other practices still bring the horror, painful, what today the viewer can see in abandoned iron and wooden plates.

Mining Museum – Montecatini

Mining Museum – Montecatini

The Mining Museum is located in Montecatini Val di Cecina, in one of the most unspoiled areas of the Tuscany region. The current museum complex stands on the remains of the ancient Caporciano mine, which remained active until the early twentieth century. The origins of the mining site are traced by experts to the Etruscan era (who lived between the ninth and first centuries BC). During the nineteenth century, the Caporciano mine represented the most important center in Europe for the extraction of copper. A century later the mine was abandoned, also due to the outbreak of the two World Wars in the first half of the twentieth century. Thanks to a joint effort by the European Union, the Region of Tuscany, the Province of Pisa and the Community of the Val di Cecina, the ancient copper mine of Caporciano has been recovered.

The museum is located a few kilometers from our hotel in Volterra with a wonderful view of the Val di Cecina

Visit to the Mining Museum of Montecatini Val di Cecina

The museum complex of the Montecatini Mines is open to the public in three distinct areas: the galleries dating back to the nineteenth century, the church of Santa Barbara and the Pozzo Alfredo tower. The guided tour of the Mining Museum includes the fascinating discovery of the network of tunnels up to 35 km long, with a maximum depth of 315 meters above the surface. The ancient mine of Caporciano was divided into ten levels, at the time of its maximum expansion (19th century). Together with a qualified guide, visitors then have the opportunity to visit the church of Santa Barbara. Above the portal is a copy of the Madonna di Caporciano, the original of which is still found today within the network of galleries (fourth level, about 250 meters deep). Santa Barbara is the patroness of all miners. The church is part of the diocese of Volterra and its current appearance derives from the latest renovation that dates back to the early second half of the nineteenth century (following a rebuilding work that took place at the end of the eighteenth century). The other attraction worthy of interest during a visit to the Montecatini Mining Museum is the Pozzo Alfredo tower, where the original freight elevator can still be admired today.

Information and curiosities about the museum complex of the former Caporciano mine

The duration of the visit to the museum complex of the ancient mine of Caporciano is estimated at around two hours and is suitable for both adults traveling alone and as a couple and families with children. The visit is paid and requires the presence of one or more local tourist guides, whose preparation, friendliness and sympathy are much appreciated. During the total two hours, most of the visit is concentrated outside rather than inside. One of the main places of interest is the tower of Pozzo Alfredo, on which the guides linger longer, telling numerous anecdotes. To find out the times, dates of visits and ticket prices that are always updated, the advice is to connect to the official website of the Museum of Mines available at this address. One last curiosity: the famous Montedison company, one of the most important Italian and international industries operating in the twentieth century, took its name from the former mine of Caporciano.

Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art – Volterra

Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art – Volterra

The municipality of Volterra is located in Tuscany, in the province of Pisa. The center is renowned for the extraction and processing of alabaster and has a history that can be compared to the most important centers in the area. It was one of the twelve most important centers of the Etruscan city-states and played an important role throughout the historical period of the Middle Ages, as it was a bishopric and its lordship dominated a large territory of the Tuscan hills.

Our Park Hotel Le Fonti is a 4-star hotel in Volterra and is the ideal place to take as a reference point for your journey to discover Tuscan culture, history and traditions.

Among the numerous places of interest in the town of Volterra, there is, without a doubt, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, located in Piazza XX Settembre, inside the church of Sant’Agostino, it also has a branch located directly in the Palace. Bishop of the city of Volterra.

Inside the museum it is possible to see works of various kinds: from paintings, to sacred vestments, to antiphonaries, to reliquaries.
Let’s try to enter, with a virtual tour, among the rooms of this magnificent museum, where the atmosphere given by the church of Sant’Agostino makes it very suggestive.

The museum takes its first steps thanks to Corrado Ricci, a well-known art historian and archaeologist, and to the canon Maurizio Cavallini. Initially placed in the seat of the Bishop’s Palace of the city, the museum was closed for many years as it was subjected to heavy bombing during the Second World War. Only on 30 June 2017 and with a solemn inauguration ceremony, did she assume the position she is in today, as also requested by the last wishes of Mrs. Franca Paoletti Adamo, a prominent woman of the city.
The entire museum exhibition boasts valuable pieces, generally coming from the church that houses it and from the Cathedral of Volterra, in large part, and from the other churches of the diocese, to a lesser extent. What makes it special is the presence, inside, of paintings, reliquaries and furnishings that have been designed and produced within the same place.

From the entrance, the striking eye-catcher is given by an imposing 10th-century stone architrave, which is part of the church of San Lorenzo in Montalbano, in the province of Siena. Numerous ancient bells are placed under the stone architrave, emerge from the ground, and indicate the numerous bell towers that characterize the entire diocese. After passing the almost monumental entrance, you find yourself in front of an imposing altar, in the center, with side altars. Once on a platform, you can admire the paintings posted on red panels. This arrangement is useful to avoid altering the architecture of the church to the human eye and to bring out the entire set of works present.

After passing the entrance with the architrave and the platform with the paintings, the visitor will find on his left a crucifix in painted wood, dating back to the thirteenth century and coming from Castelfiorentino; while on the right you can appreciate a font in the typical stone of Volterra, the alabaster, coming from the church of Sant’Andrea and dating back to the sixteenth century. Continuing the path, you can see on the right a painted table in which there is the depiction of the Madonna enthroned and Saints, a work by the well-known Florentine painter of the fifteenth century, Domenico di Michelino. In the center of the room, on a platform, stands a glazed terracotta bust, the work of Benedetto Buglioni and dating back to the 15th century, representing the patron saint of the diocese of Volterra: San Lino, pope and martyr.

Continuing the path inside the premises of the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art in Volterra and going towards the main altar, always on the right it is possible to appreciate a magnificent ciborium in alabaster stone, from the 16th century. The ciborium has a very particular and characteristic shape: in the shape of a circular temple with columns. On the wall of the church you can appreciate a painting that represents the Annunciation and is the work of Benvenuto di Giovanni and dates back to around 1400.
Continuing to follow the central platform, after the glazed terracotta, a second bust catches the eye. This is a reliquary in silver and gilded copper, which depicts the hermit and Saint Octavian, protector of the municipality of Volterra, this bust is the work of Antonio del Pollaiolo. Following you can appreciate a series of ancient sacred vestments, which lead the visitor, as in a sort of procession, to the main altar.

Continuing the journey, we arrive at the chapel of the Holy Innocents. At this point the Diocesan Museum displays one of the precious pieces of its collection: the Madonna enthroned between Saints John, Baptist and Bartholomew. The work of Giovanbattista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino dates back to 1521 and was esedrive through the ancient Villamagna. Turning your gaze to the left, you can see, in a chapel, the artistic expression of the most renowned painter of Volterra of the 1600s, namely Baldassarre Franceschini. His panel, which offers its frame to the tabernacle containing the Sacred Thorns of the crown of Jesus Christ, depicts Saints Thomas of Villanova and Clare of Montefalco. Always following the central platform, you will notice a last showcase, with an extremely refined two-volume antiphonary, illuminated by a monk of the Augustinian order and dating back to 1300.

Arriving at the end wall of the Church, you can see an access through a door that leads to the Sacristy. This too is of exquisite refinement, thanks to its perfectly preserved furnishings, consisting of furniture from the 1600s and with two showcases containing works, including modern ones, of high goldsmithing. After this brief jump into the Sacristy, your attention can return to the Church, where, when you earn your way out, you are entranced by the beauty of the Madonna enthroned between Saints Peter and Paul. The work of Braghettone, a painter also known as Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra, was composed in 1545 for the small rural church of Ulignano. The painter is known by the name of Braghettone because he is the one who has provided to dress the nude figures of the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican, by Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Inside the muzzle are also visible works by artists not mentioned such as: Stefano di Antonio Vanni, with a fresco from the Badia Camaldolese; and Giovanni Paolo Rossetti with an oil panel dating back to 1541.

Guarnacci Etruscan Museum – Volterra

Guarnacci Etruscan Museum – Volterra

The municipality of Volterra, where our hotel in Tuscany is located, is renowned for the extraction and processing of alabaster and enjoys a history that can be compared to the most important centers in the area. It was one of the twelve most important centers of the Etruscan city-states and played an important role throughout the historical period of the Middle Ages, as it was a bishopric and its lordship dominated a large territory of the Tuscan hills.

The history of Volterra is almost entirely enclosed in one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire Tuscan town: Palazzo Desideri Tangassi. Dedicated to an extroverted personage, Guarnacci was the real organizer of the exhibition where he collected the major artifacts attributable to the antiquity of Volterra, trying to launch the Tuscan center into the living rooms of bourgeois Tuscany of the 1700s. The Guarnacci museum is one of the most ancient of Europe, was born in 1761, thanks to the countless donations that Mario Guarnacci made to his hometown. The first seat of the museum was the Palazzo Maffei, here Guarnacci arranged his entire collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts. Later it was moved to the luxurious Palazzo dei Priori, dated to 1200, here it remained until 1877, when it was moved to its current location, since the collection had grown so much that it needed more space, which only the Desideri Tangassi palace could offer.

The more than six hundred urns preserved inside collect artifacts that span a very wide chronological span, highlighting the importance that Volterra has played over the centuries, thanks to its dominant position over the Tuscan valleys and the ability to easily recover many raw materials. , useful for the production of artifacts of all kinds. From prehistoric times, to Greek influence and its orientalizing, archaic and classical period, up to the Hellenistic period, where Volterra enjoyed greater splendor and development, adding to the importance that the center had in the Etruscan period first and then in the Roman period.

The Guarnacci museum was characterized by the internal arrangement of the display cases that divided the objects and guided the visitor according to the classes of the objects present inside them. In recent times, also according to museum communication studies, the position and contents of the display cases have been changed, so as to offer the visitor a more didactic and more coherent visit experience with a chronological path to follow inside the museum rooms. same. A visit carried out on the basis of a chronological order, allows the visitor to have a complete and detailed overview of the importance of Volterra, or Velathri in Etruscan over the course of the history of the centuries.

The visit to the rooms of the Guarnacci museum begins on the ground floor, where the visitor finds in the display cases many monuments with dating back to the prehistoric and protohistoric period, or even dating back to 1000 BC. The other rooms, also located on the ground floor, underline how Volterra has received many Greek influences, especially in the period of greatest development of the Etruscan center, with finds that can be dated between the fourth and first centuries BC, or corresponding to the Greek periods. orientalizing, archaic and classical. An example is the reconstruction of one of the burials of the early Iron Age, with finds attributable to the necropolis of Badia and Guerruccia, with the excavations carried out at the end of the 1800s, and the necropolis of Ripaie, with the excavations carried out in 1969. Influence Orientalizing Greek is attested by the presence of a drawing-hole with an inscription, known by the Greek name of kyathos, produced in bucchero, a material typical of Etruria. The archaic influence is emphasized by the presence of the Avile Tite stele. This stele is a funerary monument in which Greek influence is strongly denoted, especially in the salient features of the depiction of a warrior armed with a spear and sword. In the third room the classical Greek influences of Volterra are highlighted, with the presence of an Attic crater and a work by Lysandros, as evidenced by the Greek inscription on a carnelian scarab. The Lorenzini Head is of exquisite workmanship, also in room III of the museum. The visitor can admire one of the most important works of the Etruscan way, this being the oldest marble statue of worship.
From room four to room nine, including all the rooms on the first floor, it is possible to admire the collection thanks to which the Guarnacci museum was born. This collection increased in number until 1860, while its cataloging is the same dating back to 1877 and has never been modified. There are works, artifacts, furnishings and finds of all kinds: from ornamental motifs, to low reliefs, to urns of various kinds. It is in these rooms that the two most prominent works of Inter take their position o museum: the Cover of the Spouses and the Shadow of the Evening. The first is the lid of a sarcophagus, representing two elderly people reclining in a banqueting attitude, with very well characterized faces; the work dates back to the first century BC The Shadow of the Evening is an ex-voto statuette representing a young man. Its fame is due to its very particular shape, being an elongated bronze statue, which indicates the shadow cast by a low sun, the setting sun. Also on the first floor of the building there are numerous mosaic floors attributable to buildings of the Roman imperial age, coming from Volterra and the surrounding countries and the room reserved for the findings obtained during the excavation campaign concerning the Roman theater, as indicated by the epigraph Roman found during the excavation, with referable dating around the domination of Augustus and Tiberius. On the second floor the exhibition of finds attributable to the Greek influence suffered by Volterra continues, with an overview of Hellenistic productions. In this case, the selection of the objects on display was much more careful, as if to break a pre-established pattern that dictates the law throughout the museum. The intention is to guide the visitor to the end of the visit, without forcing his attention too much, put to the test by the rooms on the ground floor and first floor.

Etruscan Roman Antiquarium Museum – Sasso Pisano

Etruscan Roman Antiquarium Museum – Sasso Pisano

Sasso Pisano is a small fraction of the municipality of Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, in the province of Pisa and is just a few minutes drive from our hotel in Volterra. Renowned throughout the national territory for the presence of boraciferous heads, emissions of water vapor through cracks in the ground. Although very small in size, the small town in the Val di Cecina has many points of interest, which makes Sasso Pisano a jewel of the land of poets. Among the religious architectures worthy of note are the Church of San Bartolomeo, the Pieve di Commissano with a baptismal font made of Etruscan material and the Church of Michelucci, a well-known Tuscan architect, whose construction seems to have begun around the 60s of the twentieth century.

Sasso Pisano has been frequented since ancient times, with evidence of the Paleolithic age and whose foundation seems to date back to the Etruscans. Very famous among archaeologists and also to those who are not really in the sector, is the Sacred Etruscan and Roman thermal complex of Sasso Pisano, better known by the name of Il Bagnone. This underlines how the effect of the vapors that come out of the earth’s crust, generating the boraciferous puffballs, are a feature that has always been exploited. In fact, the many springs of thermal water have fed numerous wash houses throughout history, as evidenced by the presence of the Bagnone and other medieval wash houses that have been in use up to the present day.

Precisely the Etruscan and Roman Sacred Thermal Complex, which seems to be the largest Etruscan thermal complex, also used by the Romans, has allowed the small hamlet to boast one of the most famous museums and antiquariums on the national scene, especially as regards the chronological period indicated. directly in the name of the complex.
The premises of this beautiful museum are located within the medieval village of Sasso Pisano, offering a unique atmosphere and visiting experience to the visitor interested in the antiquarium. Inside, all the most interesting finds that were found during the archaeological excavation campaigns that affected the spa complex are contained and exhibited. The objects found do not concern only the attendance of the Bagnone, but thanks to some stamps found on the tiles, bent tiles and bricks of the elevations of the buildings, it can be attested that the area was inhabited before the arrival of the Etruscans. In fact, around the spa complex, from certain sources, it is known that these areas were occupied by indigenous peoples.

The rooms of the antiquarium museum house showcases with various objects of Etruscan and Roman origin, including: a beautiful example of a lead and tin statuette representing the goddess Minerva, the equivalent of the Greek Athena, who was the goddess of wisdom, of abundance, medicine and war, according to the cases of veneration. Probably, in this case, being a votive gift, it is believed to have been attributed the divinity of wisdom. Continuing the visit inside the rooms of the museum, we see, in another case, a small bronze donor. This find, almost unique in the Etruscan way, has a clear Volterra imprint, as evidenced by the various comparisons of other bronze productions found in the Bagnone and which are always displayed in the display cases of the antiquarium. The museum’s collection of coins is also rich in specimens, all dating back to the Imperial Roman age, with dating from around the third century AD. The coins can be dated to the imperial period, as they bear the effigy of the emperor in office in that specific period on the obverse.

During the third century AD Rome and her entire empire were ruled by the Severan dynasty. During the Etruscan and Roman periods, many terracotta productions are attested, with local kilns that had the ability to produce many artifacts. This is underlined by the presence, in the display cases of the museum, of a terracotta basin from the Etruscan age and by the presence of some stamps on the roof tiles. The roof tiles are nothing more than flat tiles, with small wings on the sides in brick that had the function of composing small drains, so they had to drain the rainwater to lead them into specific tanks and store them, so as to guarantee the supply of water for all the surrounding population and not only for the inhabitants of the ancient Sasso Pisano.

Palazzo Cangini Westinghouse Museum

Palazzo Cangini Westinghouse Museum

Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse built in Volterra between the second half of the sixteenth century and the first decades of the seventeenth century, is a private historic residence still inhabited by the original family, which saw its history intertwined with the history of Westinghouse, married to one of the last Cangini.

It is possible to visit some rooms of the palace, including the alcove, where many characters of the Austrian imperial family resided, including the Grand Duke Leopold II, the Imperial Hall with frescoes and gilded mirrors, the Study, where the oldest books of the vast family collection, the Green Room with a view of the roof garden, the dining room and the workshop of George II, in which his memories are preserved. One of the elements that make a visit to the palace unforgettable is the marriage between the environment of the past and the present daily life. Despite some restrictions, this museum still offers the possibility of accessing multiple rooms while admiring all the works of art that are present there. Coming there, you will be able to see various particular paintings which include members of the family that owns the building.
Not only that: Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse itself is a real gem on the cake.

Over the course of history, numerous owners of this museum have followed one another who have made more or less evident changes to the entire structure. Not surprisingly, this palace is currently considered to all intents and purposes as a beautiful building with a style of its own and a unique personality. All interiors are finely decorated, in order to provide all guests with the opportunity to admire the lifestyle of yesteryear. In fact, it immediately looks like one of those very large and sumptuous palaces; internally then it does not disappoint.

As long as the real owners of the Palace still live there, they are the ones who make the excursions for guests who want to better understand the history of this magnificent building or see all its artistic gems, many of which are presented to guests by members of the same family who there. lives. However, during the excursions in the Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse Museum, it is not possible to visit all the rooms, as many are private and dedicated to the use of the owners themselves. These, in fact, provide the opportunity to admire only those rooms that are public and behind which there is a very long and particular history. In fact, many stories and legends are linked to the different rooms of this museum that it is worth listening to to understand what type of building you are dealing with. And even if it is not one of the most popular museums of all, the reality is that this Palace was a real surprise for many guests who have found it.

Who can visit it?

Anyone interested in the lifestyle of the noble families of the past can do it. Of course, this is a place that could make the little ones bored, considering that it is difficult to find many fun things to do there. On the other hand, it is an ideal museum to say the least for all those who would like to discover the artistic peculiarities of the noble residences typical of the era in which the Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse Museum was founded. In fact, many halls and rooms still house the frescoes and decorations typical of that period so, apparently, far away. The family that owns the Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse Museum decided not to change the appearance of many interior spaces, making them as similar as possible to the original ones. In this regard, in the Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse Museum you can find various references not only to the time when this building was built, but also to the following centuries, when it was now inhabited by members of the Cangini family.

A note of merit, of course, also goes to the owners who, in addition to knowing every single detail of the building in question, explaining it to all interested guests, are also very kind in addressing visitors. Once you enter here, you will hardly want to leave this place. And many tend to come back to see again the various decorations and the many rooms full of a unique style of its kind.

In order to have a better chance of visiting the Palace in question, it is advisable to come there in periods of low tourist turnout only after having made a reservation with the owners. Once they confirm the booking, it is recommended to come here only at the time and day indicated. This is because the owners of the building could close the building by moving away or not want visitors on a given day. All those who come there without having first booked their visit, can be rejected. Furthermore, by telephone, it is also possible to clarify various other details related to the excursionand, like the cost of the same, the duration and so on.
To visit this noble residence of the past epochs it is advisable to make a reservation. This can be done by calling +39 342 7624300. In this way it will be possible to request any availability of the owners of the home. As long as it is still a private residence today, the owners of the same can decide to close it to the public at any time, which is why there could often be problems to visit it. In addition, it is worth considering that the Palazzo Cangini-Westinghouse Museum is located in Volterra, in the province of Pisa, at Via Gramsci, 62. This is the only address of the museum in question.

Palazzo Viti Museum

Palazzo Viti Museum

In 1850 a trader from Alabaster, Giuseppe Viti, after a series of adventures around the world, decided to buy the Palace, restoring it and hosting Princes and Kings, in rooms that have remained untouched ever since. Given the vicissitudes of the character, this building can be considered the personal satisfaction of Viti, triumphant in his adventures around the world.
In this nineteenth-century spectacle, located in Volterra, the charm of history has been preserved in the almost two centuries since its total reconstruction.

The museum

The gigantic mansion, consisting of lounge, ballroom, dining room, thematic lounges, cloakroom and even library, as well as further interiors, has been preserved as it was originally. Among the red velvet staircases, the twelve rooms that can be visited contain examples of Italian, European and Oriental art from a period ranging from the 15th century to the 20th, with important and symbolic pieces such as the portrait of Vittorio Emanuele II in the King’s Chamber, symbol of his overnight stay in the palace in 1861.
The Museum of Palazzo Viti is internationally renowned, as well as for the great care put into preservation, also for the large collection of oriental art contained inside, wisely merged with period furniture, in the European 18th and 19th century style. , able to give tourists an incredibly unique artistic show.

Giuseppe Viti and his Palace

Palazzo Viti is a symbol of success. Giuseppe Viti, son of an alabaster family, after several troubled experiences in the United States, finally manages to have luck with his travels, even managing, on his last great trip to Asia, to become Emir of Nepal.
With the fortunes accumulated from what was a real entrepreneurial celebration, Viti returns to Volterra, setting up the building that will later become the current Museum.

The twelve rooms

Each room has its own particular charm. The twelve rooms, open to the public, have been preserved as originally furnished.
The entrance staircase is already a prelude to the one that makes up the Palace. Made with materials and sculptures from the Viti factory, the faux marble effect is sure to appeal to visitors.

The ballroom, a must for a palace of the time, is furnished with Murano glass chandeliers, hardened alabaster floors and oriental objects, imported by the Viti during numerous travels.

The Salotto delle Battaglie is an example of a room entirely dedicated to war paintings, while the Salotto del Brachettone, with a large painting by the homonymous Daniele Ricciarelli, or the one who covered Michelangelo’s nudes in the Sistine Chapel, has fine furniture, mixed with paintings of great value.

The Saletta delle Porcellane instead contains the services, English and French, used by the family at the time. The Salotto del Terrazzo is entirely dedicated to the period of Giuseppe Viti as Emir of Nepal, also including the clothes used by him during his trip.
For the other rooms that can be visited there are the Yellow Room, the King’s Room where Vittorio Emanuele II stayed and where one of his paintings is still present and the surprisingly small dining room, where however many prestigious 18th and 19th century porcelains are contained. as well as luxury silverware, rarely used for family meals.

However, the Palace is made up of still other parts, all of which can be visited: the exhibition hall, where exhibitions or concerts are held periodically on request, the Library whose volumes are of inestimable value and the Red Lounge, the Wardrobe … even the entrance del Palazzo already offers ideas from an artistic point of view, with pieces of rare beauty exhibited at the entrance.

Useful information

To visit the Palace and find out its opening times, admission prices and further information not contained here, the official website is available https://www.palazzoviti.it/palazzo/ constantly updated on all types of changes.
If you are passing through Volterra for a holiday, or if you live in the neighboring areas and want to admire a masterpiece of an Italian private residence, the Palazzo Viti museum is available for any type of visit, from individual to group, with or without guides.

Volterra Picture Gallery

Volterra Picture Gallery

The Pinacoteca di Volterra is a building dedicated to the exhibition and collection of works of art of various invoices created by native and non-native authors. The building that houses this important institution is the Palazzo Minucci Solaini, which is located in Via dei Sarti, a street located in the central area of ​​the city of Volterra. The building alone is already an excellent example of architectural art thanks to a structure with harmonious lines born from the brilliant mind of the ancient builder Antonio da Sangallo the Elder.

The Minucci Solaini palace was chosen as the headquarters of the picture gallery in 1982, an art gallery that had already existed since 1905 but was located along the second floor of the Palazzo dei Priori in Volterra. The art gallery originally contained works of various origins such as a set of works from the Chapel of San Carlo (Cathedral of Volterra) and a good number of creations that came directly from the Camaldolese Abbey of San Giusto.

With the change of location of the museum, the list of works available for viewing has not only been updated and perfected, but it has also been possible to acquire collections previously preserved in other places where it was no longer possible to maintain optimal conditions for their conservation: some of these collections come from the conservatory of San Lino in San Pietro, but also from structures dealing with medieval history such as the Guarnacci Museum.

Once you enter the picture gallery of Volterra and after purchasing your ticket, you are directed to begin the visit of the structure: going up to the first floor and heading left you can enter the first room of the museum where there are several valuable artifacts such as: a historiated trunk of particularly fine workmanship, a 12th century marble lunette depicting the scene of Actaeon eaten by wild dogs and two alabaster capitals attributed to the fifteenth-century artist Giovanni Pisano.
The last of the finds that can be admired in this room is a beautiful wooden cross painted by an unknown Tuscan artist in a style reminiscent of Marcovaldo’s Coppo, who worked for fifty years during the twelfth century.

Then you pass to the second room where you are immediately in front of a fifth that divides the room into two separate spaces: here you can admire two sides of a Sienese school polyptych depicting San Giusto and Sant’Ugo in the fourteenth century and one precious altarpiece where the Virgin Mary with the child are represented, watched over by two saints and a crucifix between the latter which is attributed to a Ducciesque style.

Passing through a small eighteenth-century chapel you arrive at the hall’s highlight, that is the space dedicated to Taddeo di Bartolo inside which is kept a particularly appreciated polyptych created by the artist whose room bears the name in the year 1411. Against the golden background of the work it is possible to admire the representation of the Virgin and Child who remains at the center of a prayer group formed by Saints Antonio A. Giovanni B. and Francesco.

Immediately afterwards you pass to the third room where you can admire an unfortunately incomplete panel by the Pisan artist Jacopo di Michele (better known as Gera) on which the Madonna and Child are depicted at the center of the veneration of the Saints between Catherine and Lucia. Other works included in the room are a politician by Cenni and a Pietà by the native artist of Volterra: these in particular are two works that faithfully testify to the Volterra pictorial scene that developed between 1300 and early 1400.

In the fourth room are exhibited works by artists who were inspired by forms and styles of previous eras: the works are The Madonna (known as Madonna dal Collo Lungo) by Stefano by Antonio Vanni and San Bernardino by Priamo della Quercia.
Other valuable elements that can be admired in this room are: a splendid table depicting a Saint Sebastian praying together with Saints Nicola and Bartolomeo painted by the Florentine artist Neri di Bicci, a Pietà del Cristo by Pier Francesco Fiorentino and another Altarpiece from 1478 depicting the nativity scene attributed to the Sienese artist Benvenuto di Giovanni. But perhaps the most important work preserved inside this room is undoubtedly the altarpiece known as the Christ in Glory, which was born due to a commission that the powerful Lorenzo de ‘Medici entrusted to Ghirlandaio: this work in particular is a striking example of the artist’s technical skill and his ability to reconcile elements of the everyday life of the time to the compositions born from his imagination.

We then find ourselves in the fifth room where a couple of works by Luca Signorelli are kept: The Madonna and Child with Saints and the Annunciation are two creations that present the typical inverted pyramid scheme us created by the artist to more faithfully convey the idea of perspective inside the portico painted in the work. But it is on the wall next to these two works that the artefact considered the flagship of the entire museum is found: an altarpiece from 1521 by Rosso Fiorentino depicting the deposition of the body of Christ from the cross. Within the work, the figure of Mary Magdalene stands out in a particular way as she throws herself at the feet of the Madonna in the throes of discomfort generated by the death of the master. The next room is called “dei Manieristi” and there are several works by Pieter De Witte and Donato Mascagni. The last room of the museum is called “della Quadreria” and there are collections of works of high historical interest such as fragments of Bugiardini, medallions dating back to the Tosini-Brina environment and numerous works born from the inspiration of the German painting schools and Flemish.

All about the art of alabaster working in Volterra

All about the art of alabaster working in Volterra

In the province of Pisa and not far from Siena and Florence, we find Volterra, a jewel that owes its architectural splendor to its Etruscan origins (“Velathri” was in fact called) and to archaeological finds. A very popular destination in the Tuscany region, it is confirmed as a favorite destination especially for walks within its walls, where it is possible to admire the ancient artisan shops where alabaster objects are still worked, a material that makes Volterra famous internationally.

Alabaster: its magical connotation

What most characteristic of alabaster objects is their unreproducibility: born from the fusion of forms of art and crafts, in fact, they carry with them the soul of the hand that left their work there as a memory and as an expression of the culture of Volterra. Its mutability, continuous and underlying the various points of view, is the true magical component of this material, which challenges itself with its own reflection, crossed by the light but which at the same time embraces it.

The extraction

Alabaster is found in nature in blocks called “arnioni”, included in layers of gypsum at a depth of around a few hundred meters. The material is always different for the distribution and tonality of the veins, but also for the transparency, which can be higher or lower. In general, it has a hardness of 2.5 according to the Mohs scale and for this it is necessary to be careful during extraction, which must always be manual and circumscribe the block.
Alabaster is found in two types, which correspond to two mineralogical classes: chalky Alabaster (or from Volterra), and calcareous (or Eastern) Alabaster.

The processing: a long work of improvement

Precious material already for its geological components, it is even more so thanks to the intervention of craftsmanship, typically and traditionally from Volterra, which manages to enhance its exceptional qualities of compactness, transparency, grain and velvety. To do this, the process is divided into five phases: squaring, turning, embellishing, sculpting and finishing. Each of them varies according to the final object that is requested by the artisan shop.

The squaring

With this technique we mean the “squaring”, ie reducing the material to parallelepiped pieces or generally orthogonal shapes. For this purpose, saws are used that operate horizontally and the slabs are therefore cut with the desired dimensions, hypothetically already of the dimensions of the objects to be created. The checks to obtain perfect squaring down to the millimeter and the trimmings themselves are then made with abrasive disc saws. The minor branch of alabaster also appears directly within the squaring phase, that is, the one that concerns the mosaic, with different types of natural-colored alabaster.

The turning

As the name itself implies, this phase involves the use of the lathe, and therefore the preparation of the blocks, first squared into parallelepiped shapes, in cylinders to be worked: these will be attached with a mastic, used only for the halberd and created in the workshop. itself, to the axis of the lathe. The processing begins when the material is excavated with special “grapples” in order to obtain a first draft of the desired shape. The sandpaper smooths the final product, which is removed from the lathe very gently, as thin or fragile parts could break during the maneuver.

The ornament

When it comes to “ornate”, it refers to the bas-relief or high-relief engraving of the halberd. First you decide on the design you want to make, then you transport it to the stone, selecting the salient points of reference. “Scuffine” and “Ferri”, together with dozens of other special tools, will be able to make grooves and engravings that are completely characteristic in the shape obtained from the first turning.


Sculptors are those who are most inspired by the human and animal world and their reproduction: faces, rampant horses, commissioned busts and more. They have to be very careful to carefully reproduce the minute details in question, making a deal with the characteristics of the alabaster block. Three-dimensional models in plaster or stone, as for the sculptors of any other material, are essential here.

The finish

This step is essential because it brings out the transparencies and veins of the alabaster, also making it velvety to the touch. The finish, originally done with dried shark skin, was abrasive to the point of removing the last few imperfections. Finally, after washing the piece, it was polished and smeared with some greasy substance and white wax. Finally, wrapped in cotton cloths, the alabaster was finished when passed under a very delicate rotating brush.

The coloring

This last step simply involves exploiting the porosity of alabaster using pigments for the most varied color ranges.

Alabaster: a rich and multifaceted history

Used by the Etruscans to produce urns, alabaster saw its production as early as the eighth century. Using a technique perfected over time, the Etruscans were able to create figures full of movement, as well as to industrialize the entire production and provide light mineral colors. The ancient Etruscan excavations remain significantly in the quarries of Ulignano and Gesseri.

The production of alabaster does not disappear, of course, with the Etruscan and Etruscan-Roman decadence, but it flourishes again during the Middle Ages and, above all, in the mid-16th century, where important religious works shine under the patronage of the Church and bring back the its full artistic feature. This transformed into a form of easy-to-execute commercial exploitation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Instead, in the nineteenth century, the first workshops qualified as real factories, with masters of ornamentation and decoration called to work in Volterra and coming from all over Italy.

The reproduction of Greek and Etruscan vases, the silhouettes of bronzes, friezes and candlesticks acquires a new rhythm, enriching itself with semi-precious stones and also embracing mosaics, knick-knacks and high-relief decorations. From this moment on, in the twentieth century, alabaster is configured as a material of excellence for mannered and rhetorical expressionism, with busts, female faces and shepherdesses. Finally, Umberto Borgna is noteworthy for being the first true designer of alabaster, moving towards a slavish study of its veins, shades and combinations, opening his arms to the modern taste of vases, clocks and lamps.

The alabaster of Volterra

The alabaster of Volterra

The term alabaster dates back to the Egyptians and in particular to the city of Alabastron, once famous for the manufacture of amphorae and jars used for the preservation of perfumes. Alabaster is an elegant and fascinating material, obtained from two types of sedimentary rock: one called alabastrite or oriental alabaster and the other chalky alabaster, softer and in most cases white in color, very similar in appearance to marble. What is processed in Volterra and its surroundings is precisely the chalky alabaster, formed in the Miocene following a process of concentration and sedimentation of the calcium sulphate contained in sea water. As mentioned, this type of alabaster stands out for its softness and its whiteness. The first of the two characteristics in particular, is useful to reproduce some ornamental motifs full of details, including human faces, exactly as it happened in the past. Almost as if it were a divine stone, the Etruscans used it to make sarcophagi, cinerary urns and other decorations related to the world of the afterlife, many of which depict the face of the deceased, rather than scenes of everyday life or episodes borrowed from mythology. Greek. In nature there are various types of alabaster, including the transparent one, the bardiglio (white with dark gray veins), the cinerino (dark gray and also rich in streaks), the agate (of various shades, including honey colors, beige and dark brown).

The alabaster of Volterra and the “Balze”

When the waters of the sea retreated, millions of years ago, they left behind them a very precious asset: salt, which became one of the riches of Volterra. The other gift of the sea to this magnificent land was alabaster, already used by the Etruscans, who made Volterra an artisan center of enormous importance. The land on which Volterra stands is a land rich in contrasts, so clayey and friable as to give rise to evident and deep wounds: these are the so-called Balze, which offer an impressive and wild sight at the same time. The Balze were formed by the erosion caused by the washout of rainwater, which over the centuries has originated landslides and cracks, capable of marking forever the rolling hills of this portion of Tuscany. The view of these landscapes is amazing and moving, so much so as to conquer anyone who visits Volterra for the first time.

The history of Volterra alabaster, famous all over the world

The alabaster of Volterra is rightly considered the most valuable in Europe. Its formation dates back to over six million years ago and can be found throughout the Volterra area in tunnels and open-air quarries. This mineral is easy to find and comes in the form of compact blocks, often ovoid in shape. Each quarry offers a different type of alabaster, originating from the different chemical composition of the soil. To discover these quarries, often brought to light by the erosive phenomenon described above, were the Etruscans, the first to discover the working of alabaster and to forge wonderful works of art.

The oldest finds date back to the eighth century BC. (a famous example is the grave goods of the Tomb of Badia), although only from the third century BC. (probably thanks to the contribution of artisans from Greece) alabaster was exploited for the construction of large funerary monuments, such as boxes and urn lids. For the Etruscans this material was the stone of the dead: as many as 600 urns made in this way are kept at the Guarnacci Museum. At the time, if terracotta was the material intended for the more modest social classes, alabaster was the one requested by the rich, who appreciated its nuances, brightness and richness of details. The decline of alabaster coincided with the arrival of the Middle Ages. The only known artifacts made in alabaster are two 12th-century capitals, coming from the church of San Giusto or from the adjacent monastery. The rediscovery of alabaster as a precious material takes place during the second half of the sixteenth century, when some artists began to use it for the creation of sacred art artefacts: ciboriums, tabernacles, candelabra, holy water fonts and columns, commissioned by the many churches of the territory.

The first modern sculptor who decided to work alabaster was Bartolomeo Rossetti, who in 1549 created a splendid pair of candelabra, which were then donated to a Florentine parish. Starting from the sixteenth century, the creations of the artists from Volterra were appreciated throughout the region and also abroad, stimulating a large-scale trade. The request became urgent and caused the artists to also begin to create lamps, vases and other objects, whose fascinating shades conquered an enormous amount of people. The proliferation of companies and shops gave more and more impetus to the trade of these works of art, which soon became the protagonists of the first international exhibitions. The work of the Volterra artisans achieved great notoriety, so much so that the Tangassi company managed to snatch an important order from the Mexican emperor Maximilian of Habsburg, who decided to furnish his new imperial residence with works and objects of alabaster.