Just six kilometers from Pitigliano at the foot of the municipalities of Monte Amiata we find the town of Sorano, a medieval village set on one tuffaceous spur bordered on three sides by the river Lente. Together with its fraction Sovana and Pitigliano they make up the tuff cities.
This town has a lot in common with Pitigliano, testifying to how much the tuff is the dominant element of this area (the vie cave are also present in Sorano) a common thread of the past and present of this part of the Tuscan Maremma. The particular conformation of the village and the arrangement of the small houses, perched on the tuff spur, earned Sorano the name of “Matera of Tuscany“. A few kilometers from the town in the direction of Pitigliano rise the Terme di Sorano.
The history of the town, like that of the whole area, is also linked to the antiquity of the Etruscan civilization and in the Renaissance period to that of the Orsini and Aldobrandeschi families. From Piazza del Municipio, the main town in the town, cross the Arco del Ferrini and enter the historic center of the town, dominated from above by the Orsini Fortress which can also be visited but reachable from Via San Marco outside the ancient village. The fortress was built by the Aldobrandeschi in the 12th century and passed to the Orsini family with the marriage between Anastasia Aldobrandeschi and Romano Orsini. Even today, above the access portal there is the coat of arms with the insignia of the families. The Orsini family renovated and enlarged it, making it a true masterpiece of defensive architecture. The bulk of the fortress is decidedly impressive, but from the outside it is not possible to perceive its exact dimensions, as it develops for the most part in depth, over five underground floors! The complex structure was obtained by skilfully modeling the tuff spur on which it stands. Today the fortress can be visited entirely, some rooms house the museum of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, moreover the various buildings are connected by underground galleries and walkways, which can also be visited, which form real labyrinths.
In the historic center we find the Collegiate Church of San Nicola, a 13th century church, Palazzo Comitale, the Clock Tower that rises above the Masso Leopoldino, a fortification obtained from the modeling of a tufaceous cliff. On the top of the boulder there is a panoramic terrace that deserves to be visited. Among the numerous hamlets of the municipality of Sorano as well as Sovana and San Quirico, Montorio with its castle and the Rocca di Castell’Ottieri deserves a mention and a visit.
Spring Festival (between April 25th and May 1st). The festival celebrates spring, a season of new beginning and new life especially for crops, taking up an ancient peasant tradition of these areas. The festival includes a local food and wine festival and various initiatives such as craft markets, live music every evening, excursions, vintage car and motorcycle rallies.
A Tutto Birra (In the hamlet of San Quirico di Sorano the first weekend of August). One of the longest-lasting and most heartfelt popular festivals in the whole area. The San Quirico Beer Festival (A Full Beer) is not a simple event but an unmissable event in the summer of the tuff cities. With over thirty years of history dedicated to this famous drink, the party, organized by the “A Tutti Birra” association was one of the first of its kind in the whole area.
Festival of Soranese ham and cheese (August). With over fifty years of history, the Soranese ham and cheese festival is another of those unmissable summer events in the tuff lands. The festival enhances these two local productions, as well as food and wine in general, and accompanies visitors for a good part of August.
Handcraft Market Exhibition (August). An event that boasts almost forty years of history. The market exhibition of Sorano which takes place in the heart of the summer of the tuff lands (usually in the week of August 15th) in the ancient streets and alleys of the ancient village and in the Cortilone is dedicated to crafts from A to Z, even if it is actually reductive to simplify it to show the market only. In the days of its development, in addition to dozens of crafts and modern art exhibitors, Sorano prepares numerous initiatives related to the exhibition such as workshops, exhibition and sale of products at km 0, various entertainment shows.
Feast of the Cellars (All Saints’ Day, November). The Sorano Cellar Festival takes place in the heart of the historic center of the town. Sorano also has numerous and beautiful cellars dug into the tuff that come back to life thanks to this event. In each winery, groups of more or less young children set up their own food stand where it is possible to dine eating the typical products of the place, attend musical performances of all kinds and of course taste the wines of the area. A celebration with a special atmosphere, full of joy in a particular setting such as that of the ancient Soranese village.
New Year’s Eve in Sorano the Night of Light (30 December). In Sorano the New Year is celebrated a day earlier thanks to the “Night of Light”. On the 30th of December of each year this initiative takes place in Sorano with the lighting of a large wood pyre 10 meters high in the late afternoon which opens the evening of celebrations. Lots of music, barbecues in Piazza del Municipio and in the late evening a great fireworks display that anticipates the New Year by 24 hours.
Not to be missed
The Terme di Sorano
Relaxation and tranquility immersed in the history and beauty of unique villages such as those of the Città del Tufo. Thanks to the Sorano spa complex built at the beginning of the new millennium, all this is possible. The property is located within a green area of about 7 hectares, the residence consists of 30 independent apartments and 10 individual villas. The spa facility, on the other hand, consists of a large thermal pool with natural warm waters that flow at a constant temperature of 37 ° and a sports pool. There is also a solarium with sun loungers and umbrellas, a relaxation path in the woods, equipped with picnic areas, a tennis court, bar and restaurant. The hotel also has a wellness center. The spa is also open to outsiders by paying a day ticket.
Le Vie Cave
The uniqueness of the entire area of the tuff cities in the municipalities of Sorano and Pitigliano are the vie cave ancient Etruscan roads consisting of deep paths obtained by cutting the tufaceous rock. There are also dozens of them in the Sorano area, including Il Cavone, Via Cava di San Sebastiano and Via Cava di San Rocco. The Cavone is located in Sovana inside the Archaeological Park, just past the tomb of the Tryphon. The Via Cava di San Sebastiano is always found in Sovana in the Archaeological Park, the entrance is located a few tens of meters after the former church of San Sebastiano. Via Cava di San Rocco is located in Sorano (also in the Archaeological Park) and connects the town with the San Rocco rock complex
Città del Tufo Archaeological Park
The Città del Tufo Archaeological Park is in turn made up of three parks located in the territory of the Municipality of Sorano: the Etruscan necropolis of Sovana, the Rock Settlement of San Rocco and the Rock Settlement of Vitozza. Located near the hamlet of Sovana, the Necropolis area extends for about a kilometer and a half and has an almost uninterrupted row of cube and half-nut tombs. Among these stand out some monumental tombs with a colonnade and aedicule front with decorated pediment: in Poggio Prisca (Pola tomb and tomb of the winged Demons); in Poggio Felceto (Ildebrando tomb); at Poggio Stanziale (tomb of the Typhon). The necropolis is crossed by the Via Cava called Il Cavone and is easily reachable from the provincial road that connects Sovana to San Martino sul Fiora.
The rupestrian settlement of San Rocco is located on a huge panoramic terrace surrounded by greenery overlooking the medieval village of Sorano and the Lente river valley. From an archaeological point of view, this area is almost completely unexplored. Along the ridges of the plateau there are numerous rooms dug into the tuff. Some of these, in particular those facing south west, were used during the Etruscan period as burial places; others in the Middle Ages had an almost exclusively residential function. At the entrance to the settlement is the church dedicated to the saint which has an altar with a late seventeenth-century fresco representing the Madonna and child inside. Behind the building a road leads to Via Cava di San Rocco.
The Vitozza cave settlement is located near the hamlet of San Quirico. It is one of the largest and most important cave settlements in Italy. The town is located about 2 km from the center of San Quirico (the most populous hamlet of the Municipality of Sorano) and can be reached on foot through a path of great charm and great environmental value. The first evidence dates back to the 11th century, when numerous castles were being built throughout the area. At that time Vitozza it must have been part of a large fiefdom that included 15 castles, among which we can remember Sorano, Pitigliano, Farnese, Mezzano, etc. (Guiniccesca land). The feud must have had a considerable strategic importance since thanks to the fortifications it was possible to control the natural access routes to the sea. In addition to being characterized by the remains of numerous fortifications and churches, Vitozza is made up of over 200 caves dug into the tuff since the most remote times and used as homes, stables and outbuildings. The environments, now abandoned, still retain the traces of their use; there are cisterns for collecting rainwater, throwing wells, niches, holes and curbs for the positioning of beds and pestarole. On the basis of their use, the caves have been divided into three types: caves for mixed use (as a dwelling and stable); stables (recognizable by the presence of mangers, troughs and fences); caves for residential use (mainly present in the south-west side, more sheltered and better exposed to the sun). The latter are characterized by ziri for wheat, wells for collecting water and flues. Particularly suggestive are some environments characterized by the presence of numerous and small niches dug into the walls, the so-called colombari. These environments have long been considered funerary monuments of the Roman era but recently, thanks to the detailed descriptions of ancient scholars, the hypothesis has prevailed that these are environments excavated in medieval times for the breeding of doves and pigeons. For those who are animated by a spirit of adventure, after passing the area called San Angiolino, it is possible to enter the forest and through a rather steep path (not equipped) to reach the sources of the Lente river. The natural environment of exceptional beauty, the bridges and galleries of the old nineteenth-century aqueduct, the waterfall, the glass bridge with the small pond (where the boys once used to bathe), the cave with the spring, make the truly exciting and unforgettable visit.