Drones Document the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval Treasures of Volterra Inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, Volterra’s history is most strongly tied to Etruscan and Roman settlements.

Drones Document the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval Treasures of Volterra

Inhabited for nearly 3,000 years, Volterra’s history is most strongly tied to Etruscan and Roman settlements. The city on a hilltop south of Florence is also home to architectural artefacts from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. The town faces insistent preservation demands plus the continued threats posed by regional seismic activity.

To make an assessment of restoration priorities and record spectrographic data not visible to the eye, the Volterra Detroit Foundation – a public non-profit foundation created by the School of architecture University of Detroit Mercy – has outfitted a small squad of drones to film Volterra’s monuments. The data can then be assessed by archaeologists and restoration experts to chart a course of action.

Volterra’s vista of rolling hills and stark landscapes have also been the home of site-specific contemporary installations, such as Mauro Staccioli’s ongoing project  “Luoghi d’Esperienza,” begun in 1972 with a changing retinue of large-format works on display.

Reference: Léa Surugue. “Preserving Volterra: How drones and lasers are documenting 3,000 years of Italian history.” International Business Times. 28 October 2016.


A drone captures the Etruscan gate, c. 500 BCE. The Volterra-Detroit Foundation.

The Roman Theatre, c. 42, is vulnerable to deterioration. The Volterra-Detroit Foundation.

Badia of Saints Salvatore, Giusto and Clemente, c. 1030. Photo: Matteo Tani.

Oratorio Madonna della Neve, c. 1650. Photo: Matteo Tani.

Mauro Staccioli, Cerchio imperfetto from the “Luoghi d’Esperienza” project, 1972-2012. Galleria Il Ponte, Florence.


Further Reading: Morten Steen Hansen. In Michelangelo’s Mirror: Perino del Vaga, Daniele Da Volterra, Pellegrino Tibaldi. Pennsylvania State University Press: Philadelphia, 2013.

Marco Bazzini, Maria Laura Gelmini, et. al. Mauro Staccioli: Volterra 1972-2009: Luoghi d’esperienza/ Sites of Experience. Damiano: Bologna, 2010.

Posted by Jean Marie Carey

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