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This town fought for centuries against San Gimignano: Volterra still has its walls dating back to the Middle Ages, alabaster beauties, charming streets to wander, and is much less crowded than San Gimignano.Of course, there are also archaeological sites to visit.
In the Etruscan times Volterra was in fact called Velathri and was a prosperous commercial centre of about 25,000 inhabitants. The Romans did not take to it easily perhaps because of the harsh terrain. Once  taken over by them in the 3rd century BC, it was named Volterra.
In the Middle Ages it became an independent commune which Florence won in the 14th century. As the first signs of opposition appeared Lorenzo iI Magnifico eliminated all rivals.
Alabaster has been quarried since the Etruscan period and is an ideal material for sculpture. This almost transparent white stone was rediscovered in Renaissance times.
Volterra features four city gates which take you to Piazza dei Priori (picture 3) where the tourist information office is. There you can get an audio guide to Volterra.