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.