Pitigliano (Italy) - the heart of the tuff area

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Posted on: 04 April 2018 by Curioso Errante

In the area between Tuscany and Lazio, called Area del Tufo, due to the abundance of this material, there is still a fascinating and mysterious territory, still hardly beaten by mass tourism. In this area there are some historical centers that leave amazed for their beauty, and one of these is Pitigliano.

English Translation from Curioso Errante

Between the province of Grosseto, in the south of Tuscany, and the province of Viterbo, in the north of Lazio, the Tufo Area extends along the foothills of the Volsini Mountains. This territory is totally of volcanic origin and therefore all formations are mainly made of tuff. Today for the Area of the Tufo, it means essentially the territories that comprise the municipalities of Sorano and Pitigliano.

Pitigliano e l'Area del Tufo

Pitigliano today is a destination for tourists because of the representative charm of this area. The populations of the place, since ancient times, just think of the Etruscans, have exploited and shaped the tuff, this material here omnipresent, easy to dig and work, creating one of the most beautiful towns in central Italy. In fact, as well as being on a cliff in tuff, even the buildings are made with this material, making it perfectly integrated and representative of this characteristic area known to all as Area del Tufo.

Numerose cantine sono state scavate nel tufo sotto gli edifici di Pitigliano

The history of Pitigliano
The origins of this center date back to the dawn of time, in fact its position on top of a flat tufa hill, completely protected on both sides by cliffs, the presence of a river, made this place an excellent place to settle.
Pitigliano è completamente circondato su 3 lati da dei dirupi profondi.
The first traces in fact date back to the Bronze Age, and then later from the eighth century BC. Pitigliano became an Etruscan village. Of this period, only a short stretch of walls has reached the present day. You can admire it at the Porta di Sovana, in the north-west part of the historic center. However, the presence of the Etruscan civilization in Pitigliano has left a great archaeological legacy with its numerous Etruscan necropolis scattered around Pitigliano.
Numerose pietre scolpite sono state inglobate nelle strutture
 
From Etruscan that was, Pitigliano followed the fate of all the other Etruscan cities, being completely incorporated into the Roman Republic and then following the destiny of the Empire. Its sheltered and isolated position in the Italian peninsula, saved it from the great raids that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, letting it develop gradually.
 
In the Middle Ages it was a center of considerable importance and after being a fief of the Aldobrandeschi family, in 1293 it passed to the Orsini family who made it the capital of the County of Pitigliano. Then with the passing of the centuries, it became the Bishop's seat in place of Sovana. With the fall and extinction of the Orsini family, Pitigliano first passed to the Strozzi family and finally to Cosimo I de 'Medici. From here it was incorporated into the Granducato di Tosccana in 1608.
 
Il centro storico di Pitigliano si erge su blocchi di tufo
 
A visit to the historic center
Before crossing the entrance arch of the old town you are immediately charmed by the beautiful spectacle that you find yourself admiring. The arches of the Medici aqueduct rise up from the door above the cliff, which was built between 1636 and 1639. This work was built on the designs of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
 
Pitigliano - arcate dell'acquedotto mediceo
 

Entered the door and flanked the aqueduct, as you move towards the core of the historic center, you find yourself in a large square, immediately in front of a fortress, the Orsini palace. Built as a fortress by the Aldobrandeschi during their dominion (XII-XIII century), it was then restructured and widened by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in 1543-45, adding two large bastions with a polygonal plan in place of the previous circular towers.

Palazzo Orsini

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