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The town of Pitigliano is located in the Maremma area within the province of Grosseto, southern Tuscany, and situated approximately 313 meters above sea level. The town’s buildings look as though they’ve grown up and out of the cliffs, whilst underneath, many caves had been cut out of the tufa, a variety of limestone, since used to house the local olive oil and wine. Unbelievably, there are documents showing that a small town existed on this rock as far back as the Bronze Age. Catch a glimpse of the town during sunset from the SR74 road.................it’s breathtaking.
How To Get There
If you are arriving by air, Pitigliano is roughly half way between the main airports of ROME (Ciampino or Fiumicino airports) and PISA (Galileo Galilei airport). You would then need to take a train to the large town of Grosseto on the west coast, and from there, take a connecting bus or enquire on the cost of a taxi. The alternative option of course is to take a hire car. Pitigliano is inland along the scenic route of the SR74 stretching itself between Lago di Bolsena and the sea.
Interesting Places To Visit in Pitigliano
Duomo of Pitigliano
The Duomo of Pitigliano, built during the medieval period is dedicated to Saint Paul and Peter, also features a large Romanesque bell tower. Renovated in the recent centuries the façade that is seen today is baroque. The interior is beautifully decorated including two altarpieces painted by Zuccarelli (1702 – 88). Open Daily.
The Palazzo Orsini
This outstanding building dating from the 13th century with it’s interesting architecture houses the Diocesan Museum, Etruscan artefacts and an exhibition of work from local artists including Zuccarelli. Entry fees into the Palazzo Orsini are reasonable. Closed on Mondays. Call 0564 616074 to check on hours of opening.
Pitigliano, has a Jewish ghetto in Via Zuccarelli including a Synagogue built in 1598. Many Jewish people had fled up to the town from Rome to escape Catholic persecution some centuries ago and later, the town became known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ due to it’s prospering Jewish community and integration with people of Pitigliano. However, there are few Jewish people in the town now. The Synagogue with it’s beautiful interior of painted decorations, lamps, Holy Arc, women’s gallery, and pulpit were carefully restored in 1995. Close by in caves which had been dug out from the tufa are also the remnants of the Jewish culture such as the Kosher wine cellar, Kosher butchers, and bakers where the unleavened bread was made and the ritual bath. Call 0564 616006 for visiting information.
Vie Cave Etruscan Roads and the Quarry Fratenuti
The tourist information in Piazza Garibaldi (Call 0564 617111) should be able to provide detailed information on recommended walks to take in the amazing Etruscan roads and passageways carved deep into the rock. This fascinating ancient area is very important to Pitigliano. Wear comfortable shoes and enjoy stepping back in time.
There are a number of options of where to stay in and around Pitigliano, and here are a few suggestions, Hotel Valle Orientina, see www.valleorientina.it , Gaustini in Piazza Petruccioli, see www.albergoguastini.it, Hotel Belvedere, see www.belvederetoscana.com and Podere Melograno, on www.melograno.to. an agriturismo.
Suggestions on where to eat in Pitigliano
There is a good choice of places to eat out in Pitigliano, Here are some suggestions for example, Chalet il Noce Pizzeria in Piazza Garibaldi, Trattoria il Grillo in Via Cavour, La Magica Torre in Piazza Petruccioli as well as Gaustini in Piazza Petruccioli. There are plenty of venues to enjoy locally produced and prepared typical dishes of the area, not forgetting of course the very well known wine of the area, Bianco di Pitigliano.
You will find typical shops of an Italian town here in Pitigliano, for example florists, jewellers, ceramics, delicatessens, and cantina’s where you can sample and purchase locally produced wine. The area is well known also for it’s olive oil. Every Wednesday you can enjoy strolling around the visiting weekly market. If you have a sweet tooth, then you must go to the bakers and try a local delicacy called ‘Sfratto’ meaning ‘eviction’, made in remembrance to the Jewish people who were evicted from their homes. The stick shape pastry, filled with honey, walnuts, candid orange and nutmeg resembles the batons used to knock on the doors.
Torciata Di San Giuseppe
If you are fortunate enough to be visiting Pitigliano in March, you will witness the Torciata Di San Giuseppe, a traditional festival of a candlelit procession held every year through the historical centre. After the procession, the locals light a big pyre in Piazza Garibaldi as a symbol of purification, good luck and the coming of spring. Do check with the tourist information (0564 617111) on next year’s dates.
Should you decide to use Pitigliano as a base to explore the surrounding towns, you’ll be pleased to know that Lago di Bolsena, Saturnia and the beautiful coast of the Maremma are all within easy reach. Pitigliano is also almost touching the border of Lazio, making the position ideal to sample another province during your stay. The town is associated with, Orange Flags, Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, ‘City’ of Wine, ‘City’ of Oil (olive), ‘City’ of Tufa, and Wine Routes.
Updated by Fay Henson.