Alabaster in Volterra
3000 years of the highest-quality craftsmanship
You can’t visit Volterra without exploring its craftsmanship scene, where alabaster is undoubtedly the protagonist.
The Etruscans already learned how to handle the extraordinary glossiness and consistency of this material. This knowledge was then slowly passed down from generation to generation, making alabaster an integral part of this area.
Walking trough the artists’ shops
There’s only a few examples left of the traditional Tuscan artisan workshop, but that same ambience can still be felt in the air while witnessing the creation of a beautiful alabaster sculpture.
These workshops are where the “alabastrai” were born: characteristic people from Volterra who learned the art of alabaster. They have a unique lifestyle and language and are a symbol of unconventionality, freedom and a close connection to their land.
The alabaster Leaning Tower
Talent meets manual skills
The renowned scale replica of the famous tower in Pisa is an indisputable proof of these skills.
The sculpture, commissioned and now owned by the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, was created by artisans from the association “Arte in Bottega”, from Volterra.
After about 3 years of work, a team of skilled artisans from Volterra realised a smaller replica of the Pisa tower completely faithful to the original. They recreated every little architectural detail, such as the columns, the arches, the columns’ capitals, the windows and the architravi, and every little decorative detail, such as the inlays, the low reliefs, the mosaics and all the decorations on the capitals.
Six kinds of alabaster from Volterra of different colors were used to create the tower, on a scale 1:25.
The alabaster tower is made out of 25,000 pieces, used for the eight parts it’s made of plus the base and the mosaic on the floor.
It weighs around 9 tonnes and is around 2.4 metres high.