In the deep south of Tuscany, in the Maremma region and near the border with Lazio, rises what is one of the most impressive and extraordinary medieval hill top towns of all Tuscany and Italy.
As if suspended up in the air, Pitigliano soars above a truly spectacular and scenic outcrop of tuff with an incredible tangle of medieval houses and buildings that seem part of the cliff itself, perfectly camouflaged with the spur of tuff dominating the beautiful valley underneath.
What is really amazing and astonishing is that, together with the Medicean arches of the large aqueduct, you can still see Etruscan tombs immediately below the level of the buildings, like holes in the cliff.
Pitigliano was a powerful Etruscan city, then conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. During the Middle Ages it became a feud of the noble families Aldobrandeschi and Orsini.
Once passed under the power of Florence with the Strozzi and Medici families, the town became the center of a large Jewish community so earning the name of “Little Jerusalem”. A beautiful synagogue was built In the 16th century, now restored to its former splendor.
The great and unique charme of Pitigliano derives from the contrast between the medieval look of the alleys, the streets, the houses, the picturesque cellars carved into the tuff, and the beautiful Renaissance buildings.
This amazing village has practically remained unchanged over the centuries, and each age has left its sign, with each generation digging the tuff and creating a city under the city with tunnels, wells, and tombs.
The mighty fortress of Pitigliano hosts the Renaissance Palazzo Orsini and the Museo del Medioevo e Rinascimento and the Fortezza Orsini. Palazzo Orsini is an imposing fortified building built between the 14th and the 16th centuries, that hosts the Museo Civico Archeologico della Civiltà Etrusca, dispaying an interesting collection of Etruscan finds, like vases and jewellery.
The Museo della Civiltà Giubonnaia really deserves a visit; it is dedicated to local objects and domestic and agricultural utensils of the Maremma. But what is most impressive is the museum’s location! It is situated in a series of cellars under the fortress, discovered accidentally during a clean-up; that’s a real labyrinth remained hidden for three hundreds years!
The main square of the village, Piazza della Repubblica is incredibly beautiful and suggestive; two fountains welcome you, while from the balcony with arches you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama all over the surrounding Tuscan countryside with rivers, woods, trees, and waterfalls. When illuminated by the sun, especially at sunset, Pitigliano is a real gem shining with golden colours and reflexes; a true spectacle!
Together with Sorano and Sovana, Pitigliano is the perfect hideaway for a very relaxing vacation, all nature and culture lovers will be enthusiastic, as well as all food and wine lovers 🙂
If you decide to pass a vacation in this beautiful, yet lesser known corner of Tuscany, I suggest staying at Locanda Ilune, a country chic relais near Pitigliano, or at Hotel Relais Valle Orientina, offering charming accommodations and the possibility to relax in the indoor thermal swimming-pool and wellness center.
Map of Pitigliano