Beyond the 13th-century Pisan-style facade, the first thing that strikes you in this 12th-century church is its coffered ceiling. It was carved and embossed with gold and azure in 1580 and is filled with portraits of Volterran saints, including St. Linus, a venerable native son who became the world's second pope, filling St. Peter's shoes in A.D. 67.

Volterra's Duomo is filled with well-done baroque paintings, but few stand out. Among those that do is the first altarpiece on the right, Belgian Mannerist Pieter de Witte's Presentation of Volterra to the Virgin, with a 1578 view of the city. In the right transept, above the door to the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, is a 1611 Crucifixion by Francesco Curradi -- a good baroque study of light and fabric. Across the transept from this chapel is a life-size sculpted wood group of the Deposition, painted in bright primaries and heavy gold. It looks vaguely mid-20th-century but was actually carved around 1228 by anonymous Pisan masters, artists who were bridging the gap between stiff Byzantine traditions and the more fluid, emotional art of the Romanesque era.

In the left aisle of the church is a pulpit assembled from 13th-century Pisan relief panels in the 16th century; the Last Supper facing the nave is particularly arresting for its visual style and whimsical detail. Next up the left aisle is a magnificently restored 1497 Annunciation by Fra' Bartolomeo.


In the Cappella dell'Addolorata (Lady Chapel), off the end of the left aisle, in the niche housing the Nativity terra-cottas, Benozzo Gozzoli frescoed an intimate backdrop for the scene, placing it in a rocky pass bursting with foliage and the horse train of the Magi riding in from the distance.