Pitigliano Tourist Attractions
SituationThe little town of Pitigliano lies in the extreme south of Tuscany, some 20km/12.5mi west of the Lago di Bolsena (which is in Latium) and 50km/30mi east of the coast.HistoryThis easily defensible site was probably occupied by the Etruscans, followed by the Romans, to whom it was known as Caletra. During the Middle Ages it belonged to the Orsini, an influential Guelf family, who granted it a municipal charter. Later the town passed to the Florentine family of Strozzi, and in 1604 it was incorporated in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Pitigliano is perched on a crag of yellowish-red tufa between the gorges of the rivers Meleta, Leuta and Prochio, in an extremely picturesque situation. The soft rock below the town is riddled with man-made holes; some are ancient tombs, others are used as cellars. In the Piazza della Repúbblica is the battlemented Palazzo Orsini, built in the 14th century and altered and enlarged in the 15th and 16th. In Piazza Gregorio VII stands the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo, originally a medieval building but much altered in the 18th century, with a Baroque facade and a massive campanile. It contains paintings by Francesco Zuccarelli (1702-88) and two large historical pictures of the late 19th century. In the square is a travertine pillar with a figure of a bear (orso), the punning heraldic emblem of the Orsini family. The valley is spanned by a 16th century aqueduct with 15 arches which once supplied the town with water.
The tiny town of Sovana, originally founded by the Etruscans, has preserved its medieval aspect, but is now a place of little consequence, having long been overshadowed by Pitigliano. It has the beautiful little Romanesque Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo, built in the 12th-13th centuries on the site of an earlier (ninth century) church and altered in the 14th century. Near by is the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria, with early 16th century frescoes and a pre-Romanesque ciborium (altar canopy).
In the valleys below Sovana, 1.5km/1mi away, is an Etruscan cemetery area of chamber tombs (fourth-second century B.C.) hewn from the soft tufa.
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