Tuscany’s Tufa area encloses of the towns of Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana. This mostly hilly area is known for striking rock settlements, charming villages and medieval fortifications built near Etruscan and Roman centers. Let's discover these 3 jewels in southern Maremma.
Pitigliano is perhaps the most famous village in the Tufa area. Before even reaching the village, you'll see its remarkable beauty from the distance, as it's perched on a volcanic tufa ridge. This picturesque old town is known as “little Jerusalem of Maremma” due to the presence of a historic Jewish community. In fact, the Jewish quarter is one of the town's highlights, in addition to the delightful, tiny center and the Etruscan sites in the surrounding area. The town itself is small enough to be explored on foot. Visit Palazzo Orsini and the Fortress, the Pitigliano Cathedral, the 16th-century aqueduct, the Church of San Rocco and the Vie Cave.
Another fascinating village in this part of Tuscany is Sorano, built on a high tufa rock, a short distance from Pitigliano. Like the previous town, Sorano boasts Etruscan origins, which are well-known thanks to the remarkable discovery of ancient settlements and necropolises. It was dominated by the Aldobrandeschi noble family, who turned it into a defensive village, fortifying it with bastions and with the impressive Orsini Fortress. On the opposit side, you'll see the "Masso Leopoldino" another defensive outpost of old origins. Sorano also preserves an ancient Jewish Ghetto, abandoned in the early 20th century. Don’t skip out on a stroll through the unique archaeological park where you'll see the so called Tomba Ildebranda, the Tomb of the winged demons, the San Rocco stone settlement and, of course, the Vie Cave.
Sovana, in the municipality of Sorano, is known as an important Etruscan, medieval and Renaissance village. Over the years, the town developed near the pre-existing Etruscan tombs, under the control of the powerful Aldobrandeschi family who built a fortress there. Other important people held power in this area: the Orsini, Medici and Lorraine families and even Pope Gregory VII. Sovana vaunts the Cathedral of San Pietro and its crypt that keeps the remains of St. Mamilian, who evangelized the town. Before leaving, visit the San Mamilian Museum, in piazza del Pretorio, one of the most charming squares in Italy.
Have you ever visited any of these towns? Get to know the Etruscan history and culture, and keep on exploring the beauty of Tuscany.