Last updated: 08 November, 2022
Built from tuff rock and founded by the Etruscans in the 8th century BC, Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana are a fascinating trio of towns set in a remote south-eastern corner of Tuscany. Evidence of the Etruscans is all over the area in local museum collections, the many necropoli and the mysterious Vie Cave.
Pitigliano, built on sheer cliffs, eventually passed into the hands of the Medici; a Jewish ghetto was established here in 1608, relics of which can still be seen today. The Archaeological Museum houses a haul of local Etruscan finds.
The heyday of Sovana came in the 13th century under the Aldobrandeschi family who built the now-ruined castle. A gem of a village, it has an impressive 12th-century town hall and a lovely Romanesque Duomo.
Cliff-top Sorano is reached via a dramatic road that winds in and out of deep gorges. The old town is partly derelict thanks to a series of landslides; its charming, quiet lanes are dotted with artists’ studios and workshops.
The precise purpose of the mysterious Etruscan walkways known as the vie cave (passageways gouged into the tuff rock) is not clear, but a walk through one of these deep channels, some of which are 20m deep and a kilometre long, is a memorable experience. The most famous are the Cavone, Poggio Prisca and San Sebastiano near Pitigliano.