The San Michele Church in Volterra
of medieval origins
San Michele Arcangelo (St Michele Archangel) is a 13th-century Romanesque-style, Roman Catholic church in Volterra, region of Tuscany, Italy. The church is across the street from the Medieval Palazzo Maffei-Guarnacci (Casa Torre Toscano).
The first documentation of a church dedicated to S. Michele is from August 14th, 987. It was an episcopal bull where “Bishop Peter [gave] Priest Teuzo, son of Venerio, the Church and the Altar of Saint Archangel Michele located in a place called “presso il Foro”, with the obligation to sing Masses and Psalms, provide it with incense, light and wax”.
The church we see today is the result of many renovations carried out between the Middle Ages and the 20th century. The first renovation started after 1259, when the church was upgraded to a priory, which means it was assigned to a community of priests instead of just one pastor.
The current floor plan and facade, which remained intact especially in its inferior part, are a result of that first renovation. The Romanesque-style capitals decorating the half columns holding up the black and white arches are from the 13th century. These capitals, as well as the facade with black and green stones, are similar to the ones built for the baptistery. The finely sculpted details of the ridge of stone on the arches are remarkable as well.