L’ALABASTROVolterra is a town of Tuscany, unique and unrepeatable, where the same landscape as changing of the seasons helps to enhance the aura of mystery, solitude and romantic sadness that pervades it.
It ‘a city of stone, because the streets are stone, stone are its towers and palaces of stone and its walls are stark. Everything is made of a stone yellow-gray, the panchino, which often crop up shells of rare beauty.
And of stone, alabaster, is also his craft.
The origin of the name “alabaster” is certainly Egyptian and perhaps derives from the town of Alabastron, formerly famous for the manufacture of pots and jars for preserving perfume.
There are two varieties of alabaster: the oriental alabaster (calcium carbonate) and gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate).
The alabaster gypsum, what is worked in Volterra and in particular those extracted from the subsoil of Castellina Marittima, is formed in the Miocene period following a process of sedimentation and concentration of the calcium sulfate content in the marine waters. It is a white stone for its particular softness lends itself to be more easily machined marble and therefore suitable to play on a smaller scale certain motifs rich in detail and depict in detail the human face, according to the aesthetic that dominated addresses of classical art.
Almost like a stone of the gods, the Etruscans were using it to build coffins and urns with rich decorations depicting the image of the deceased along with scenes from daily life, such imaginary journeys to the underworld and famous episodes of Greek mythology.
The largest collection of these urns are kept in the Museum Guarnacci Volterra, but others can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Florence, the Vatican Museum, the Louvre and the British Museum in London.
In this the Etruscans used their craft only the finest alabaster, the impurity-free, lightly colored it with minerals and sometimes covered it with thin sheets of gold.

The few rare finds in alabaster of medieval and Renaissance testify to the overall decline in that period of the use of this material.
The craft Alabastrine begins to flourish, however, in 1600 when, in addition to artistic works only extends to the processing items of furniture to be launched on the market.
You can, however, speak of true expansion in terms of quantity and quality only in the early 1700s when, for the supply of skilled players of classic works, he began to produce items of excellent quality that made it known to the whole world alabaster.
It has been more than two millennia since the Etruscans began the process, but the alabaster, despite many difficulties, they still work in Volterra and do not constitute, as it has been in the recent past, the leading sector of the economy , is undoubtedly still the key element of its culture and its history.
Today there are few craft shops left in the city center, but to them, and those few true craftsmen who work in them is entrusted with the preservation of tradition and the task of directing production towards its revival.