In the heart of the Tufo area lies the town of Pitigliano. A charming medieval village of rare beauty that stands on an imposing tuff cliff surrounded by valleys and three rivers.
Despite the medieval origin of the village, the history of Pitigliano began much earlier, with traces of civilizations dating back to the Bronze Age and the Neolithic. Pitigliano also has an important Etruscan history and reached its maximum splendor in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Another important feature that made the town famous is the presence of a large Jewish community (since the end of the 15th century), which is why Pitigliano is also known as “La Piccola Gerusalemmme”. Food and wine well represented by numerous clubs and events of various kinds located throughout the year, mean that much of that history that made Pitigliano famous in the past has also reached the present day. The historic center seen from the view of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie represents that natural postcard that has made Pitigliano famous all over the world.
Walking through the historic center among the ancient streets and small alleys means making a real journey through time where you can admire and touch all the historical periods that characterize the town. The Medici aqueduct, the grandeur of Palazzo Orsini on Piazza della Repubblica, the Cathedral dedicated to St. Peter and Paul, the ancient Church of San Rocco … are just some of the monuments and points of interest that can be found in the ancient village, composed of three main streets connected to each other by dozens and dozens of small alleys. The main street is Via Roma (the Corso) which goes straight to Piazza San Gregorio VII where the cathedral is located. The street on the left side is Via Zuccarelli (The Ghetto) and here we find all the Jewish part of Little Jerusalem, testimony of the community that inhabited the town. The third street is Via Vignoli (La Fratta).
In Pitigliano there are also several museums in addition to the one dedicated to the Jewish community. Two are located in the structure of Palazzo Orsini, the Diocesan and Sacred Art one which allows you to visit the rooms of the castle and the Archaeological one where you can find objects and finds of the Etruscan influence of this area. Another museum that deserves a visit is the open-air one dedicated to Alberto Manzi which is located just outside the town about three kilometers away. Inside there is a via cava (that of the Gradone) and the necropolis of San Giovanni.
The Jewish Ghetto
Pitigliano hosted Jews perhaps until the end of the fifteenth century and became an important refuge for them in central Italy, so much so that a temple was erected in 1598.
The Ghetto is made up of a main street (Via Zuccarelli) and a series of streets, alleys and squares in the historic center where the social, cultural and religious life of the Jews took place. In Pitigliano, the only heir to the “refuge cities” of the territory, the favorable conditions that had been preserved for centuries made it possible to develop exceptional relations of coexistence and tolerance between the Jewish and Christian populations, so much so that the citizenship was designated as the “Little Jerusalem. “. Despite the fact that Jews are now reduced to a few units, that ancient relationship continues in other forms; from the restoration and conservation of Jewish monuments such as the Synagogue, the oven of unleavened bread, the ritual bath and the Jewish museum (all open to visitors) to the choice of producing kosher wine in the Cooperative Cellar of Pitigliano, to the foundation of the “La Piccola Gerusalemme” Association, which has as its purpose the promotion of initiatives for the enhancement of the history of Pitigliano. Outside the inhabited center there is also the Jewish cemetery.
Le Vie Cave
It is one of the unique characteristics of the tuff cities, also present in Sorano and Sovana. Pitigliano is surrounded by numerous caves, ancient Etruscan roads made up of deep paths obtained by cutting the tuff rock.
Some are over a kilometer in length, with walls up to 20 meters high. The vie cave often intersect Etruscan necropolis. The main ones are that of the Gradone (where the open-air Archaeological Museum “Parco Alberto Manzi” has been set up), of S.Giuseppe, of Fratenuti, of the Madonna delle Grazie. Recently, “The path of the cave roads” was created, a tour with departure and arrival from the inhabited center that winds for several kilometers around the town and which allows you to visit these fascinating paths in a single time (only the Manzi park remains outside. which can be visited separately).
The events of Pitigliano
The Torciata di San Giuseppe (March 19). La Torciata is famous for the arrival of the new season, representing a sort of rebirth that drives out winter through the ritual of fire. In Piazza Garibaldi a large puppet made of dry reeds is set up to represent winter and on the evening of March 19, a group of hooded torches coming up the town from the Meleta river burns it as usual.
Infiorata of Corpus Domini. The infiorata takes place every year on the occasion of Corpus Domini. In the streets of the historic center, numerous religious and non-religious images are made with flowers, leaves and other natural elements.
Goblets of Stars (10 August). An event very important dedicated to the world of wine. It always takes place on the evening of August 10, coinciding with the night of
San Lorenzo. The event is part of a national circuit linked to the City of Wine and the Wine Tourism Movement association. Along the streets of the historic center, each venue such as restaurants, wineries and wine bars offers its own typical dish for tasting and it is paired with wine from a local farm. An event that allows you to discover the flavors of the territory.
The County Festival (August). A party that takes Pitigliano back in time, a historical re-enactment that brings us back to the court of Niccolò III Orsini who was lord of Pitigliano. During the days of the festival (usually three) you can attend historical processions with period clothes, various shows with jesters and circus performers, a permanent Renaissance-themed market set up in Piazza della Repubblica. In addition, at dinner time you can have the honor of eating at the court of Count Orsini, in the internal square of the building.
September of wine, Festa delle Cantine (first weekend of September). Probably the event that attracts the most people to the tuff city during the year. It takes place every year, now uninterruptedly since 1999 during the first weekend of September and closes the Pitigliano summer “with a bang”. This event has taken up an ancient tradition of Pitigliano, a popular festival that took place already after the war if not before, which consisted of “emptying” the cellars of the old wine to make room for the new one for the upcoming harvest. Located in the historic center of Pitigliano, about ten wineries set up their stands with different themes and for four days they offer dinners based on typical local products, local wine, music and various shows for a party with a unique atmosphere to be experienced in the ancient alleys of the country
Santi Vinai (second weekend of November). Festival dedicated to new oil and new wine. Local companies present their freshly pressed oil in a charming market inside the former granaries of the Orsini Fortress, as well as show cooking, food and wine tours, seminars always dedicated to the pressing of olives and the production of oil.