The electric unit volt, the derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference (voltage), and electromotive force has been named in honour of Alessandro Volta, in reference to invention of the voltaic pile.

Born in Como, a town in present-day northern Italy, Volta improved and popularized the electrophorus, a device that produced static electricity. He became a professor of physics at the Royal School in Como in 1774 and his promotion of it was so extensive that he is often credited with its invention, even though a machine operating on the same principle was described in 1762 by the Swedish experimenter Johan Wilcke.

Alessandro Volta was made a count by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810, in honour of his contributions to the world of modern physics and his image was depicted on the Italian 10,000 lira note (no longer in circulation, since the euro has replaced the lira) along with a sketch of his voltaic pile.

Volta retired in 1819 to his estate in Camnago, a frazione of Como, Italy, now named 'Camnago Volta' in his honor. He died there on March 5, 1827 and his remains were buried in Camnago Volta.

Alessandro Volta's legacy is celebrated by the Tempio Voltiano memorial located in the public gardens by the lake. There is also a museum which has been built in his honor, which exhibits some of the equipment that Volta used to conduct experiments.

Nearby stands the Villa Olmo, which houses the Voltian Foundation, an organization promoting scientific activities. Volta carried out his experimental studies and produced his first inventions near Como.