The tufa towns: Pitigliano, Sorano, Sovana and Manciano
Not far from the lagoons of Orbetello are the so-called Tufa Towns, located in a rugged and mysterious area, in which wooded valleys alternate with canyons and where small towns are perched on high cliffs. The tufa towns are of Etruscan origin and are the towns of Pitigliano, Manciano, Sovana and Sorano.
Pitigliano, of ancient origins (an Etruscan necropolis was discovered dating from the 3rd century B.C.) is a feast for the eyes already from afar; the town seems to be excavated and rises directly from the rock on which it is built. There are ancient Etruscan tombs converted into modern-day cellars, the charm of the monuments of the Renaissance period created on a medieval format, breathtaking landscapes that create a unique atmosphere, and the village with its maze of streets, arches and steep alleys. Must sees are Palazzo Orsini, which contains a Renaissance residence adorned with friezes, portals and loggias but also the Cathedral and the Synagogue, founded by a large group of Jews who arrived here in the fifteenth century (for this reason, in the past the town was also called “Little Jerusalem”), as well as the related oven for the unleavened bread oven, renovated in 1996.
Manciano is another beautiful village of Etruscan origin which from its Aldobrandesca Fortress offers a sweeping view covering tens of kilometres, from Monte Amiata to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The town, in addition to hosting the Museum of History and Early History of the Valle del Fiora (a local river) offers the Cathedral of San Leonardo, the Rocca Senese, the Oratory of Santissima Annunziata and the square of Saint Lucia, with its buildings of valuable features of Renaissance origins.
Sovana is located right in the middle of a series of Etruscan necropoles: one of the most important, in the municipality of Sovana, forms part of the Archaeological Park of the Tufa Town. The town, also dating from the third century B.C., is very small but is undoubtedly a treasure to behold. The Cathedral dating from the tenth century and the Aldobrandesca Fortress surround the town, which also offers tourists Piazza Pretoria and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore which contains a ciborium from the eighth century, one of the rare works of pre-Romanesque art that still exists in Tuscany.
Sorano is the oldest of the Tufa Towns. Perched on a high rocky outcrop, with beautiful medieval tower-houses, it is dominated by the Orsini Fortress, built on the remains of the former Aldobrandesco Castle. Sasso Leopoldino, a fort created from a tuffaceous rock, also makes a stunning impression.
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