The village of Sorano is located in the province of Grosseto in the south of Maremma Tuscany in the area called “Area of Tuffs“. The village is nestled in a unique and striking way up to a steep tuff rock at the foot of Mount Amiata and has several ups and downs. The old town is characterized by a network of alleys, courtyards, arches, portals with bosses in relief, exterior stairs, balconies and cellars dig up in the tuff where in the past the local inhabitants performed the various stages of harvest. The Soranesi cellars have unique characteristics in Italy and it would be appropriate to create routes for improving their utilization. Among those available to the people, we recommend the wine cellars of the Aldobrandeschis Inn and the restaurant “Hostaria Terrazza Aldobrandeschi” from whose terrace you can admire the “columbarium” and the necropolis of St. Rocco. The other wine cellars of the village are private and are opened to the people only during the “Festival of wine cellars “, an event organized by an association of Sorano.
The area where today rose up Sorano was already inhabited in the prehistoric age, even if few archaeological pieces not allow us to be able to absolutely confirm it. Also this settlement, like all the villages of this area, lived an Etruscan age, as evidenced by the several sites where the necropolis and the Vie Cave are located, but spent under the control of the neighboring Sovana which at that time was living an important process of development and political course. Romans conquered the Etruria in the III century a.C but the traces of their passage, not so many, are limited to the conferment of the name “Soranus” to the area and the discovery of numerous location dug into the tuff called “columbari” were the cinerary urns of the defuncts were put. With the establishment of the Aldobrandesca County by the Emperor Ludovico II on the 9th October 862, the story of Sorano begins. The village belonged earlier to the Aldobrandeschis that designed it as a defensive village, building the homonymous fortress and fortified walls still surrounding the old town. Later, after moving to the County Sovana, it was inherited by the Orsini who expanded the castle and built the fortress with their name. During the 1400s, the expansionist ambitions of the Republic of Siena will force the Orsini to defend themselves from the numerous assaults of Siena. But, despite the constant assaults, the village was never conquered and deserved, by Cosimo de’ Medici, the nickname “match of the Italian wars”. After the fall of the Orsini, in 1604 , Sorano became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and remained under the control of the Medici until 1737 and the Habsburg-Lorraine until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy with the plebiscite of 1860.
What to visit in Sorano
Who arrives in Sorano will soon realize that along the alleys, courtyards and endless staircases of the old town there are many buildings to see. First of all, the imposing Aldobrandesca fortress (then became Orsini fortress) built by the family in 1172, inherited from the Orsini at the end of 1200 and enlarged by Niccolo Orsini IV in 1552; the Leopoldino Rock or old fortress built in the medieval age and renovated by the Lorraines; the Palace Comitale, the former residence of the Counts Orsini, the two old gates of entry to the village: the Porta dei Merli (or door of bottom) and the Porta di Sopra or Arc of Ferrini, the Romanesque collegiate church of St. Nicholas, dated to the Middle Ages, the Jewish ghetto established by the Medici in 1619; the medieval church of Pieve di Santa Maria dell’Aquila located near one of the springs of Terme di Sorano and erected during the Aldobrandesco government.
Archaeological Park “City of Tuff”
The Archaeological Park “City of Tuff” was born by decision of the town of Sorano in order to enhance the historical, cultural and natural beauty of its territory. In addition to the most important testimonies of the Etruscan period, the park includes numerous and important buildings from the medieval period. The park stretches from Sorano, Sovana and Vitozza (San Quirico di Sorano) and includes: the village and the necropolis of Sovana, the Fortezza Orsini and Leopoldino Rock in Sorano; the rocky settlement of St. Rocco a two km from the village, the rocky settlement of Vitozza (San Quirico di Sorano) and its two hundred caves.