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Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana: the tuff villages

Wednesday 11 november 2020

In Tuscany, in the area of the Archaeological Park of Tufo there are three villages of great interest: Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana.

Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana: the tuff villages

In the center of Italy there are beautiful villages that fall within the area of the Archaeological Park of Tufo, a very large and interesting area that includes Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana. The whole area is characterized by some Cavoni, like canyons that stand out for the tuff walls, from which it takes its name. In this area you can also see many Etruscan necropolis remained partially identical and literally dug and carved into the tuff.

Pitigliano: a small Italian Jerusalem
The village of Pitigliano is really suggestive for anyone who visits it, in fact it literally seems to emerge from the tuff. The buildings are all ochre-colored and therefore seem to be part of the surrounding rock. Its fame as a small Jerusalem is due to the presence of a Synagogue and a Jewish community. Visiting the historic center, among the small alleys and arches, you can reach the main square where the Synagogue stands. Inside you can admire all the furnishings that date back to the sixteenth century. Near the square there are also the Ritual Bath, the Forno delle Azzime, the Cellar that produces only Kasher kitchen, the Dyeworks and the Butcher's shop.

Sinagoga di Pitigliano

Also well known are the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the city Cathedral. To visit the Medici Aqueduct that was used as an aqueduct for the whole area and the Fountain of the Seven Spouts. Not to be missed a stop at the Orsini Palace, which was a convent and then became the Orsini Fortress. Nearby you can see the Renaissance well that today is a historical element of great value. In the Etruscan tombs instead you can visit the cellars dug into the tuff.

tombre etrusche

One of the most beautiful events that take place in Pitigliano is the Torciata di San Giuseppe, day in which the arrival of spring is celebrated. On the evening of March 19, 40 flashlight bearers, hooded and dressed in traditional clothes, carry on their shoulders a bundle of wood and reeds along the streets of the village until you reach Piazza Garibaldi, where you will find a straw puppet, several meters high, which symbolizes the winter. Here the bundle of reeds they carry is set on fire and used to start the grandiose bonfire that will burn the puppet, to symbolize the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Once the puppet is set on fire, the torchers form a circle around the fire and holding hands dance evoking ancient rites and traditions. According to legend the ashes, collected by the women, are then kept in all the houses of the village as a sign of abundance and good omen.

Torciata di San Giuseppe

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Sorano: the Matera of Tuscany
Even Sorano is practically dug into the tuff, to the point of remembering the stones of Matera. Its position is impressive, less than ten kilometers from Pitigliano. The village is ancient and this is connoted by a great historicity, in fact it is the oldest of the tuff villages.
In some ways it seems almost an abandoned village, this is because the tuff has been heavily eroded and many landslides have contributed to ruin a part of the town. You can still see the alleys, loggias, medieval towers but also the many cellars that have been carved into the tuff. Also here you can admire the Orsini Fortress that was built on the previous remains of an abandoned fortress. Inside there are frescoes that date back to the school of the sixteenth century.
Also Sorano has its Synagogue, an important place of worship even if the major Jewish community moved towards Pitigliano. A restored structure where you can still admire all the beautiful nineteenth century. Worthy of attention is also the Clock Tower.


Sovana: among the most beautiful villages in Italy
After about 9 km Sovana rises on a tuff cliff that seems to literally dominate the whole area. The territory still preserves all the Etruscan remains such as the ancient tombs, the necropolis and the history that has distinguished it. In Sovana the first thing you can admire is the Rocca Aldobrandesca, a fortification that was part of a medieval castle. The most important square is the square of the Pretorio, the heart of the village in which stands the homonymous Palace, completely covered with tuff walls, and next to it stands the Loggetta del Capitano. Very suggestive is also the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which still houses some very famous frescoes of the sixteenth century.
In the Palazzo dell'Archivio, consisting of tuff walls, there is a huge clock and a bell tower that you can see inside. Heading towards Via di Mezzo it is possible to admire the house of Pope Gregory VII which currently houses a museum. Not to be missed also the Co-cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the Cathedral which is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Tuscany.

Sovana, tombe etrusche


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