THE SOUL OF VOLTERRA
The octagonal Baptistry of San Giovanni was first recorded before the year 1000 but the façade with the main portal, clad in white and green striped marble in the Romanesque-Gothic style, dates back to the 13th century.
…The portal has a frieze decorated with a series of a small trilobate arches holding small human heads depicting Christ, the Virgin and all the Apostles.
The construction of the portal in 1283 is commemorated in an inscription in hexameter verse running above and below the frieze. The capitals of the columns and pilasters on each side of the door display figured elements, human protomes and animals with human heads stylistically reminiscent of the work of Nicola Pisano.
The interior presents six niches hollowed out of the thickness of the walls. The niche on the right of the high altar, with a panel painting by Niccolò Cercignani, known as Pomarancio, depicting the Ascension of Our Lord, contains the original marble baptismal font carved by Andrea Sansovino in 1502, while the present monumental font in the centre of the building was carved by Giovanni Vaccà and donated by Archbishop Francesco Salvatico dei conti Guidi in 1760.