From here, walk up Via Matteotti to Piazza dei Priori, one of the most perfect medieval town squares in Italy. It is dominated by Palazzo dei Priori, the oldest town hall in Tuscany (1208-1254) and by Palazzo Pretorio, whose central tower was built in 1224. Much history has tramped through this now serene spot, some of it unspeakably cruel. Machiavelli described the bloody invasion of the Florentines, whose presence is felt everywhere, from the many marble, enameled and stone plaques on the walls to the two lions perched atop the columns flanking the Palazzo. The other sides of the square are occupied by the heavily remodeled Cassa di Risparmio building, the 14th-century Palazzo Vescovile, and the rear of the cathedral. Walk around the side to see the front façade, designed in the 13th century by Nicola Pisano. The vast interior contains several impressive works, the most renowned being Benozzo Gozzoli’s fresco of the Magis’ arrival (1479) and Mino da Fiesole’s marble ciborium (1471). The two we find most interesting, however, are the exquisitely carved 12th-century marble pulpit, and local artist Zaccaria Zacchi’s poignant painted terra cotta nativity scene.
The first historical information of the Cathedral of Volterra dates back to its consecration in 1120. The subsequent enlargement, of the mid-thirteenth century, is attributed, like the façade, to Nicola Pisano, while the arrangement of the transept and choir dates back to the 14th century.