Pitigliano, the Tuff City
Pitigliano rose up in the province of Grosseto, in the southern Tuscany, at the border of Tuscan Maremma. Who coming from Manciano, along the SS 74 Maremmana, arrives here for the first time will suddenly stumble upon an extraordinary sight: medieval houses and sheer towers, ravines and caves dug into the tuff, high walls of rock dominating the valley where the rivers Lens, Meleta and Prochio flow.
The history of Pitigliano
Pitigliano carefully preserves the memories and testimonies of its ancient past, its civilizations and cultures occurred over the centuries. This rock has been inhabited by prehistoric men of the Bronze Age with findings of the Neolithic period; by the Etruscans, as evidenced by the Vie cave (Excavated Roads) and the necropolis found in the surrounding area; by the Romans and by an important family, the gens Petilia, hence the name of Pitigliano; by the medieval family of Aldobrandeschis, the lords of the Maremma for almost half a millennium; by the roman family of the Orsini in the Renaissance and then by the Sieneses, by the Medici and Lorraines, who were the creators of a remarkable phase of modernization and urban development.
The Jewish Quarter
After the restrictions due to the Papal Bulls of the Papal State, Pitigliano hosted the Jews until the end of the fifteenth century and became an important shelter centre in the Central Italy. Over the years, the small Jewish community occupied the southern part of the village, today Via Zuccarelli (The Ghetto) where rose up: the Synagogue, the oven of unleavened bread, the school, the cellar dug into the tuff where “kosher” wine was produced, the kosher butcher, the bath of purification for women and the dry cleaners. Thanks to its economic and cultural vitality and mainly to the peaceful coexistence between Jews and Christians, the development of the Jewish community characterized the “Little Jerusalem” (as he was nicknamed Pitigliano) for more than five centuries.
The White of Pitigliano
The nature of the soils, the brightness and the mild climate of the area fostered over the centuries the development of a blooming viticulture that produced one of highest quality Italian white wines: the famous “Bianco di Pitigliano”, that received in 1966 one of the first DOC recognized in Italy. The same thing can be said for the excellent extra-virgin olive oil, obtained by cold pressing which, matched with the wine, makes even more tasty the typical dishes of this area.
What to see in Pitigliano
There are many worth things to see in Pitigliano. Approaching to the village, the first thing that catches the eye, looking to the right, are the giant arches of the Aqueduct Mediceo, built by the Medici from 1636 to 1639. From Piazza Petruccioli you will arrive in the old center and, with the aqueduct on the left side, to the Fortezza Orsini and to Palazzo Orsini of Aldobrandesca origin. In Gregorio VII Square, we find the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, in Zuccarelli Street the Jewish Ghetto and in Generale Orsini Street the thirteenth-century Romanesque Church of St. Maria.
Just outside the city walls, we can admire the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie and its garden for enjoying a great view of Pitigliano; the church and convent of St. Francesco in the Orsini Park; and finally, on the road to Manciano, the Jewish cemetery, the Etruscan necropolis of Poggio Buco and its old settlement already inhabited in the prehistoric age.