At the end of Via Porta all'Arco stands the main gateway to Etruscan Volterra, a huge arch of a gate that has survived since the 4th century B.C. -- with a bit of Roman-era rebuilding in the 1st century B.C. On the outside of the arch are mounted three basalt heads -- worn by well over 2,000 years of wind and rain to featurelessness -- said to represent the Etruscan gods Tinia (Jupiter), Uni (Juno), and Menrva (Minerva). The gateway almost didn’t survive World War II, when retreating German troops decided to blow it up to block the Allied advance through the city. Volterrans dug up the surrounding paving stones and temporarily plugged the opening, convincing the Germans not to destroy a gate that no one could pass through anyway.
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