Pitigliano in Italy: discover the beauty of Tuscany’s “village of tuff”

Pitigliano is one of the most picturesque villages in Tuscany. Included in the list of the “Association of the Most Beautiful Small Towns of Italy”, Pitigliano lies a few km from the boundary between Lazio and Tuscany, bordering with the Maremma Toscana to the West, and being part of the region known as “Tuscia“, which is the land where the ancient Etruscans dwelled and prospered.

Driving along the state road 74, at the sight of the steep, flat, and elongated cliff on which stands the village of Pitigliano, you can’t but pull over and admire the breathtaking landscape.

The area of Tuscia in central Italy has plenty of similar looking villages, that appear suspended in mid-air between the woods and the sky: Pitigliano, Sorano, Calcata, Civita di Bagnoregio, and Trevinano, so…

WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT PITIGLIANO?

The Medieval and Renaissance buildings of Pitigliano rise from the tuff in a harmonious continuation, as it does a plant from the soil. All around this massive stone, the intricate vegetation where the three rivers flow at the foot of the town.

Pitigliano is not only a pretty village made of alleys, stairs, and panoramas all to be explored. The place was inhabited since the time of the Etruscans (1000 b.C. to 200 b.C.), who were the first advanced civilization of Italy; immersed in the Archaeological Park of tuff in Southern Tuscany,  it is full of monumental ruins to visit.

The ancient peoples chose these places because the land is extremely fertile: Pitigliano is surrounded by vineyards and is the perfect base for a slow food experience: food of an excellent quality produced at “zero km”.

In this article, I will share all I know about Pitigliano as a repeat visitor, and I will suggest a convenient itinerary that touches both the main attractions in Pitigliano and the hidden gems. I will recommend where to find accommodation and have dinner as well.

PARK YOUR CAR AND GET YOUR FREE MAP OF PITIGLIANO

You can only enter the historic center of Pitigliano on foot. As soon as you have reached the village, park your car in the free car park just outside the town center (or in the pay car park) and continue on foot (I explain how to get to Pitigliano by public transport later on).

First of all, go to the nice tourist office and get a free map of the village: even if Pitigliano is small and you can walk through it in a couple of hours, there is plenty of alleys and you could easily miss out on some of the main attractions, fascinated by the magic atmosphere of the village.

BEST ITINERARY IN PITIGLIANO ITALY

Start from Piazza Della Repubblica, the main square of Pitigliano.

Fountain of the Seven Spouts

Work commissioned by the noble Orsini family that ruled Pitigliano in the 16th century. The fountain is part of the Aqueduct that was to be completed during the following century. There are 5 arches covered in tuff from which to look out and enjoy the panoramic view. Each of the arches is decorated with reliefs from different historic times.

The Orsini Palace with the museums

The Palace was a convent during the 11th and 12th centuries then passed into the hands of the Aldobrandeschi family, and the Orsini in the second half of the 13th century.

The Orsini restored it and made it a fortified residence. Today this building houses the Museum of Sacred Art and the Archaeological Museum, with the Etruscan artifacts recovered from the Vie Cave (more on this below).

The rooms of the palace preserve the frescoes portraying noble life during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance.

The Belvedere of Pitigliano Italy

On the opposite side of the Fountain of the 7 Spouts, a small opening with a breathtaking panoramic terrace awaits you.

Medicean Aqueduct

The “Medici” family from Florence took advantage of a revolt of the people of Pitigliano against the noble Orsinis to take possession of the territory of Pitigliano at the end of the 16th century. In the first half of the 17th century, they completed the creation of the impressive Medicean aqueduct of Pitigliano. 

In the 18th century, the Lorraine nobles added a series of small arches, which today amount to 15. The tuff aqueduct is elegantly integrated into the town walls.

Via Roma

Proceeding along the center of the 3 main streets of Pitigliano, so-called Via Roma, you’ll go through a series of craft shops, local products, clothing shops, and small art galleries, perfect for your souvenir shopping, until you reach a small square with the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.

 

Cathedral of Pitigliano

The façade of the Cathedral is glowing, covered in light-colored marbles. It is dated to the 13th century but has been renovated several times.

The building gives light to the small square that houses it and makes it picturesque: you will notice that from wherever you try to take a picture of the entire facade including the bell tower, you will not succeed. It is better to sit at the outside tables of the “Le Logge” café and enjoy the atmosphere while sipping a drink. From the square with the cathedral, you can go straight to the ancient church of San Rocco or pass under the portico towards Pitigliano’s Little Jerusalem.

Little Jerusalem

Between Via Zuccarelli and Via Marghera extend the places of the ancient Jewish ghetto of Pitigliano. The Jews began to arrive in Pitigliano at the end of the 16th century.

The Orsini were in favor of the presence of the Jews in Pitigliano and gave them land to build the cemetery and the Synagogue.

The Synagogue, the butcher’s shop, and the Kasher bakery date back to that period. For a few euros, you can visit them, together with the cellar where the white and red kosher wine of Pitigliano is produced.

Church of San Rocco

This is the most ancient church of Pitigliano. It was renovated by the Orsinis in the 15th Century, but it must be much older, as we know that most of the churches of the Renaissance and Medieval eras were built on pre-existing places of worship, Roman and Etruscan.

The cozy space is decorated with simple architectonic elements, like the columns in the Ionian order.

Once inside, you will immediately notice the emblems of the noble families that ruled Pitigliano through times.

MORE INTERESTING THINGS TO DO IN PITIGLIANO ITALY

Pitigliano is surrounded by many archaeological sites of great value. The best known are the Etruscan routes called “Vie Cave” but there are others as well. All are set in a regenerating natural landscape that will make you forget the hustle and bustle of the Italian tourist cities.

These sites around Pitigliano will show you that the whole area, known as “Archeological Park of Tuff” is a true hidden gem in Italy.

Here are some of these sites:

Outdoor Archaeological Museum A. Manzi

This open-air museum was established by the mayor of Pitigliano Manzi in 1995-97.

Passing through the Etruscan route of the Gradone you will encounter several reconstructed Etruscan houses, from the Bronze Age (XII-XI B.C.) to the Archaic Age (VII-VI B.C.) until you reach a panoramic terrace. Continuing through the wood you pass through two necropolises with monumental tombs dug out of the tuff stone.

Ticket: €4

Orsini Park

The Renaissance park was once adorned with rock sculptures that are now mostly erased. The place looks romantic and abandoned: there are ruins of churches, seated pavilions, stairs, and a ruined convent.

The most suggestive point of the park is Poggio Strozzoni, a cliff that rises from the precipice of a ravine.

The “Vie Cave”, archeo-paths

The Via Cave or “Etruscan paths” are an archaeological element that characterizes the whole region of the so-called Tuscia in central Italy, which includes large areas in northern Lazio, southern Tuscany, and Umbria.

The real function of these monumental paths dug into the tuff by the Etruscans with chisel and hammer along the necropolis is buried in mystery. They were repurposed as hermitages for Christian mystics in the Middle Ages and today they are a top destination for Italian archeo-trekkers.

21 of these incredible routes unravel between the villages of Pitigliano, Sorano, and Sovana in southern Tuscany, suggestive man-made canyons high up to 20 meters making their way through the tuff of the green Tuscan valleys.

TIPS:

  • From the historic center of Pitigliano, you can reach the Etruscan paths. Follow the signs for “Porta Sovana” and then “Le Vie Cave”.
  • It is better to wear trekking shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks. 

EATING IN PITIGLIANO. BEST DISHES AND RESTAURANTS

The local products are wine, cheese, mushrooms, wild boar meat, homemade pasta, and typical desserts. Here are some of the local dishes you can taste in Pitigliano:

  • Pici | elongated homemade pasta similar to spaghetti made from water and flour
  • Pappardelle | homemade flat noodles (contain eggs, flour, and water)
  • Tegamata | beef marinated in red wine overnight and then browned for two hours with tomato puree and potatoes.
  • Migliaccia di Pitigliano | thin crepe stuffed with ricotta or pecorino cheese
  • Focaccia bastarda | focaccia stuffed with ricotta cheese and vin santo
  • Tozzetti | biscuits with hazelnuts and candied fruit
  • Sfratti | long biscuits from the traditional Jewish cuisine of Pitigliano filled with honey, orange peel, walnuts, and aniseed

There are many great RESTAURANTS IN PITIGLIANO, like:

  • Hostaria da Ceccottino
  • Osteria Fuori Porta
  • Le Bontà di Claudia Cucina Tipica
  • Pizzeria La Terrazza
  • TIP:  If you travel by car, don’t waste the opportunity to dine at a Tuscan family-run farm like “L’aia del tufo”, where delicious dishes are made with 0 km products and served in the courtyard of the farm. This is the place I loved the most in Pitigliano, especially because I had excellent dishes at a fair cost.
  • Alternatively, go for some excellent grilled meat or a pizza at the Tagliere Etrusco in the nearby village of San Quirico (open from Friday to Sunday).

SOUVENIRS & SHOPPING IN PITIGLIANO

Of the few villages immersed in the archaeological park of the tuff, Pitigliano is the best for shopping and buying souvenirs.

What can you buy in Pitigliano?

  • Vintage clothes and furniture
  • Leather clothing
  • Handicraft
  • Works of art by local artists such as paintings and sculptures (like Calcata, Pitigliano in the last decades has become a village where Italian and international artists retire to make art).
  • Local wine and olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Veggie sauces and marinated vegetables
  • Local sweets (like “tozzetti” and “sfratti”)
  • Mushrooms and truffles

WHERE TO STAY IN PITIGLIANO | ACCOMMODATION TIPS

When it comes to choosing the perfect accommodation in Pitigliano, you have two main choices:

If you travel to Pitigliano by public transport, find your accommodation in a B&B inside the village. Besides having the chance to experience what it means to wake up and spend the evening in such a picturesque Tuscan village, you will have all the attractions at hand.  Eventually, you can take a bus ride to the nearby lovely villages of Sovana, Sorano, and to the hot springs in the region.

If you travel by private car, you should stay at a typical farmhouse, or “agriturismo”. Surrounded by the countryside, vineyards, and olive fields, you will absorb the slow pace of nature, and relaxation is guaranteed. Here is my recommendation for 3 farm stays in near Pitigliano:

  • L’aia del Tufo | B&B, half, or full board –
  • La Sovanella | B&B, half, or full board
  • Poggio Ba | B&B, half, or full board
  • Tenuta Roccaccia | Apartments in one of the top-notch wine farms in Pitigliano with own kitchen and swimming pool – for the best privacy

HOW MANY DAYS YOU NEED IN PITIGLIANO AND BEST TIME TO VISIT

  • Pitigliano attracts local tourism all year round and especially at the weekends. The best times to visit are:
  • 19 March, to take part in the century-old festival “Torciata di San Giuseppe”
  • April-May-June- September-October, these are the months with the best weather
  • Any other months, to enjoy the hot spring in Saturnia and Sorano
  • July and August: best to avoid the hottest months, you wouldn’t enjoy all the place has to offer to the fullest.

HOW TO REACH PITIGLIANO BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Get a train to these cities in Tuscany:

  • Orbetello
  • Grosseto
  • Albinia

And then a “Tiemme” bus to Pitigliano

OR,

Get a train to the beautiful city of Viterbo in Lazio and then a Cotral bus to Pitigliano.

 

If you loved this post about Pitigliano, make sure to have a peek at my:

 

pitigliano Italy pinterest pin
Piazza della Repubblica

I’m sure you can find some inspiration to plan your trip to Pitigliano Italy… Don’t hesitate to ask any question you might have, I’m happy to help!

 

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