The town is situated on a steep tuff rock, 313 metres above sea-level. The area of Pitigliano and far to the south of Rome is characterised by tuff stone, a hardened type of volcanic magma. The typical Tuscan landscape with small farm houses on soft hills is rarely found here. South Tuscany is wild and many sided, similar to neighbouring Latio, the area around Rome. Small creeks have cut steep valleys into the landscape and there is a lot of woodland. Not far from Pitigliano is Lake Bolsena, a huge water-filled crater and the largest Italian lake. From Siena you can see Mount Amiata, an isolated volcano 1738 metres high, and a favourite skiing area in winter. Near the coast are extended flat zones, which were notorious for malaria contamination up to the 1930's. This was the area that was home for famous bandits like Domenico Tiburzi. Nowadays the Maremma coast 50 kilometres from Pitigliano has beautiful beaches that are hardly developed.
Southern Tuscany was once one of the most important centres of the Etruscans. There are numerous cave-tombs of that period around Pitigliano, caves cut deep into the tuff, that are today used as cellars and sheds. Later Pitigliano became Roman. There's hardly anything left from this period. But under the town houses are cellars in use which have lots of little niches, in which 2000 years ago the urns of the dead used to stand.
In mediaeval times, from the 9 th century on, the Langobard family Aldobrandesci ruled the region of Pitigliano. After 1312 the Orsini family took over and from 1604 the Medici's.
Of further interest is the Jewish history of Pitigliano. For a long time there was an extraordinary large Jewish community, that influenced the cultural life of the town together with the gentile population.
On the right: the
|the Orsini Castle||The castle stands at the entrance to the old town. Next to it runs the impressive mediaeval aqueduct, that supplied the town with water.|
|Piazza||On the piazza are two bars: The Bar Centrale and the Bar Italia. In the mediaeval period the level of the piazza was some 6 metres lower that today. Since then it's been raised, so that you can hardly imagine that there's a chapel in the cellar under the Bar Italia with old frescoes (unfortunately neither maintained nor accessible).|
|Museum of the "Giubbonaia"||To the left of the city hall is the entrance to an interesting museum with old agricultural and household tools and appliances from day-to-day life, mainly used in kitchens, agriculture and viticulture. Have you ever seen a cardanic stretcher for steep fields? It's on show here. From the museum you can start an underground walk past the castle foundations and through long tuff tunnels (ask for a tour at the tourist office on the left at the entrance to the old town).|
|Churches||On Piazza San Gregorio is a 15 th century cathedral with historic paintings by Pietro Aldo. The oldest church of Pitigliano (mentioned in 1274) is San Rocco, almost at the end of the old part of town. It has an unusual trapezoidal layout and elegant, slim travertine columns.|
|Etruscan Wall||At the end of the old town you take the steps on the right that lead to the Porta di Sovana, a medieval gate. Directly outside are the remains of the Etruscan city wall.|
|Synagogue||Underneath the cathedral, in the former Ghetto (entrance just past the tunnel on Via Zuccarelli) you can visit the restored synagogue and the Forno delle Azzime (a disused kosher bakery), evidence of the once flourishing Jewish culture of Pitigliano.|
|Orsini-Park||Outside of town on the road to Sorano, just pass a bridge, is the entrance to a park created at the end of the 16th century, in which on the north side you can see statues and stone seats carved from the tuff.|
|Etruscan Roads||In the entire area of Pitigliano are numerous paths with walls more than 10 metres high, dug into the rock by the Etruscans. They wind down from the plateau's to the river valleys below. Some are just outside of town: Leave town through the Porta di Sovana and descend down an Etruscan path to the left, till you reach the road to Sovana. Cross the road and continue down to the bridge across the Meleta River. From there follow the Etruscan path up to the church Madonna delle Grazie.|
Giovanni Feo: Die Tuffsteinstädte im Fioratal. Pitigliano 1996. Travel-Guide with short descriptions of the sights (German)
Giovanni Feo: Le Vie Cave Etrusce. About the Rock-Carved Etruscan Paths (Italian)
Renzo Vatti: Profili di Città Etrusce - Sovana, Pitigliano, Sorano. Pistoia 1993 (Italian)
Massimo Becattini/Andrea Granchi: Le Colline del Fiora, Florenz 1998. Travel-Guide (Italian)
Renzo Vatti: Sorano, Florence 1996 (Italian)
Bruno Santi (publisher): Guida Storico-Artistica alla Maremma, Siena 19950. Culture trips in the Grosseto province, emphasis on mediaeval times, (Italian)
Mariagrazia Celuzza (Editor): Guida alla Maremma Antica, Siena 1993. Deals with old Maremma Antiquities, with lots of maps and plans (Italian)
Massimo Palottino: Die Etrusker (The Etruscans), Fischer Paperback (German)
Piero Tierone: Maremma, Novara 1998. Small Travel-Guide on the Maremma (Italian)
Cinzia dal Maso/Antonio Venditti: Die Städte der Etrusker, the Etruscan Towns, Florence 1994 (German)
Nicoletta Maiol Urbini (Publ.): Monumenti del Parco Naturale della Maremma, Siena 1994. Buildings in the Maremma-Natural-Park, (Italian)
Sara Paretsky: Grace Notes, in: "Windy City Blues", New York 1996. A thrilling detective story by the well-known American author. At the beginning the main person reads an ad saying that an advocate is searching for her mother who left Pitigliano for the US, and who had died many years before.
|Jewish Culture in Pitigliano|
|Pitigliano once had a florishing Jewish community. Therefore it was even called "The Little Jerusalem". Here you can read more about that and find some literature and links.|
|Eytan Kahn's pages provide a lot of interesting information on Pitigliano, especially on its Jewish culture. There is a very nice page of artwork too that shows how different international artists have seen Pitigliano. (italienisch/englisch/deutsch)|
|some interesting Italy-links|
I Giubbonai: Homepage of a Pitigliano theater group that plays dialect comedies.
Il Giardino dei Tarocchi: Page on the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle's exiting Pop Art Garden near Capalbio.
Erikas Brücke nach Italien (Erika's Bridge to Italy). The German-Italian pages of Erika Mager give you a lot of information about Italy and Italian culture in Germany (with a really good collection of links).
Wolfgang Pruscha, Padua, provides you on his partly bilingual pages Viaggio in Germania with useful information for Italians in Germany as well as with articles that could be interesting for Germans and other foreigners.
Bill Thayer's pages contain a breathtaking mass of pictures and text concerning archaeology and art, ancient literature and the architecture of the Roman Empire, also some about the mediaeval ages. Quite a lot of it deals with Italy. You can't imagine how busy Bill Thayer is in collecting material until you've looked into his pages. Here's an example: the "Historia Naturalis" written by Plinius comprises of more than 30 volumes. Bill Thayer typed them all (in Latin!) and put them on the net.
The association “Deutsche in Italien e.V.” is a forum für German-Italian cultural exchange.
|Roman Traces near Pitigliano - Trips to the Surroundings|
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