The Persio Flacco Theatre
Wanted by the entire community of Volterra
The theater was built as an initiative of a group of citizens in the courtyard of Palazzo Viti. The construction process finished in 1819, and the theater has been run by the “Accademia dei Riuniti” since 1920.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the whole community of Volterra felt the need to have a town theater. In 1816, a group of citizens decided to make this wish reality. Architect Luigi Campani, previously architect of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando III, ran the construction works that went on between 1816 and 1819. The theater was officially inaugurated in 1820.
Palazzo Incontri (afterwards called Palazzo Viti) was chosen to host the theater because of its beauty. This building dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, and its facade is attributed to Bartoloneo Ammannati. The theater takes up the ground floor and the back garden of the “palazzo”.
It’s a typical Italian theater, with the hall the shape of a horseshoe, four rows of balconies and an acoustic vault. The main curtain was painted by painter Nicola Contestabili, who decided to paint Aulo Persio Flacco, the great Volterran poet whom the theater is dedicated to, on the Parnassus surrounded by Muses.
In 1820, a group of 60 citizens founded the Accademia dei Riuniti, which bought the theater with the money from the members’ share and assigned a balcony to each member. The Accademia has owned the theatre and directed its activity ever since.
The theater was closed and inactive for 15 years between 1984 and 1999, for its functional adaptation.
Before the reopening, the members of the Accademia donated their balconies to the Accademia itself, in order to change it to legal personality of private rights and then have access to public funds. This change cost billions of liras and happened only thanks to the sacrifices of many members, to the Fondazione e Cassa di Risparmio di Volterra, the Municipality of Volterra, the Province of Pisa, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the European Community.
The Accademia dei Riuniti, that now owns the whole theater, has changed its charter again, so it can now admit new members, it can have major public and private institutions in its board of directors, and it made it possible for the theater to be inalienable and bound to the city of Volterra.