Visit and discover the magic triangle of Southern Tuscany… Here you are the hilltop towns!
Three towns, three jewels sculpted out of tuff-stone: Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana… The hilltop towns of Southern Tuscany!! A truly magical triangle! Describing them in a few words isn’t easy… but we’ll try!
Pitigliano mesmerizes visitors from a distance, even before entering. Its houses appear to seamlessly grow out of the tuff-stone cliff. At night, with the lights, this hilltop town seems to float in midair; it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s a must see rarity! Strolling through the streets of the historic centre, people can feel a particular atmosphere. This isn’t the typical artificial, tourist town where everything is geared for tourism.
Here everything is genuine, real; the historic centre is welcoming but it’s also lived by the local inhabitants, the Pitiglianesi. There’s the shoemaker who fixes shoes with the tools of yesteryear, the barbershop with heated discussions about football, the artisan who creates flawless works, artists who give colour to the streets.
Carved out of a rocky cliff, Pitigliano’s origins are lost in the past. As far as we know, the Etruscans first chose this natural fortress as a place where they could stay and prosper. In the Middle Ages, the Aldobrandeschi family built their empire here, followed by the Orsini Counts.
Pitigliano tells its history to the many visitors that come to stay with us. It’s a history that’s marked in the names of the streets, in the historical buildings, in the grand monuments like the Mediceo Aqueduct, the Orsini Palace and above all that marvelous example of tolerance and integration between the Christian and Jewish communities that formed the Little Jerusalem here; it’s a place of refuge.
The heart of the town offers us the Cathedral and the Synagogue in close proximity, the latter being one of only five synagogues left in all of Tuscany!
In the countryside around Pitigliano and the other hilltop towns, centuries of history are preserved in Etruscan necropolises, ancient homes and the super highways known as the Vie Cave, all of which are just waiting for tourists to explore them. Find yourself in front of the breathtaking vista of Pitigliano and you’ll be unable to resist its beauty and charm.
On the other hand, thinking about Sorano a nativity scene comes to mind.
A very little village perched around the imposing Masso Leopoldino and guarded from high by the majestic Orsini Fortress, with its underground passages.
Little, narrow, well-kept lanes, breathtaking views and smells that entice one to sit down and try the local dishes.
Like Pitigliano, Sorano rose out of a tufa rock cliff, and it is surrounded by a striking valley that has, over the centuries, been carved by the rushing waters of the Fiora Valley’s three biggest rivers. Medieval Sorano is a maze of small streets where you can lose yourself in the most enjoyable way possible.
Traces of the Etruscans can be found in the countryside around Sorano too. After you’ve visited the town’s small alleyways, boutique stores and provincial trattorias, you should explore the ancient Vie Cave and visit the numerous nearby necropolises.
The San Rocco Archaeological Park, on the other side of the valley, is a short walk from Sorano and is an enchanting location where you can enjoy centuries of history with a side of incredible views.
And finally there is Sovana, a tiny village that nonetheless is full of history and significance. It is often compared to a bonbonnière, and it truly is one.
Today a town of no more than 100 residents, Sovana was once the artistic and cultural centre of the Maremma Collinare. Before that, it was the most important Etruscan settlement in the area. The Etruscans found in Sovana the ideal conditions to freely express their artistic and architectonic masterpieces, which were very similar in style to those of the Ancient Greeks.
Its square is elegant and welcoming, a real treasure chest, starting with the travertine alter in the Romanic church of St. Mary, sole example in all of Tuscany. Just a short walk down Via del Duomo you’ll find the Duomo, imposing and austere, its simplicity captivates and leaves you speechless. Sovana doesn’t lack anything, it is even the birthplace of a pope… that courageous reformer who took the name Pope Gregory VII, also known as Ildebrando di Soana, and who humiliated an emperor in Canossa.
You have surely understood that a day is not enough to visit this magical triangle, so.. take your time! In the end things are slower here and haste is absent.
In the nearby necropolis, the Sirena, Ildebranda and Demone Alato tombs are prized as being some of the most beautiful and intact Etruscan-era tombs in the entire world. One look at Sovana and her nearby necropolises and you’ll understand why this town and indeed all of the Maremma is lauded for its incredible beauty and unforgettable history.
The hilltop towns cities are waiting for you!