The even lines of vineyards are melting under the beams of the gentle November sun, a guest ever less frequent and for this reason ever more desirable and expected. Against the background of their red and yellow leaves canvas, the green cypress arrows seem sharper and more determined to reach the pale blue sky. The collected harvest reveals the nudity of fields deeply wounded by tractors. Timid young springs, tender and emerald, are already rising their heads at the bottom of those wounds: the circle of life is being accomplished.
Maremma, one of the most picturesque regions of Tuscany, is breathing in the calm of these short autumn days looking into the infinite depth of the sea, listening to the whisper of the falling leaves, waiting for the first snow to cover the peak of Mount Amiata.
And the winter, as we all know now, is coming: on top of the hill, 313 meters above the sea level, the temperature is almost twice as low as that in the valley and a cold wind strolls along the narrow streets of Pitigliano.
According to the legend, Pitigliano was founded by two Roman citizens, Petilio and Cheliano, after whom the town was named. But it is also believed that before the Roman influence was established in the region, it had already been inhabited by the Etruscans. It were them who had dominated the whole area for ages.
After the Etruscan and Roman civilizations came to their end, the Middle Ages brought the influence of the noble and powerful families of the epoch to the region. Those influences succeeded each other. The Aldobrandeschis were followed by the Orsinis, and the Orsinis, in their turn, by the Medici family.
Each of those families left its own imprint in the history and architecture of Pitigliano. The Aldobrandeschis founded the town’s fortress that was later updated by the Orsinis. The name of the latter was also given to the palace situated in the proximity of the town’s gate while the aqueduct’s arches, one of the symbols of Pitigliano, were constructed by the Medicis. Thus, the so-called tuff town (built on the tuff rock) is the reflection of its own history and that of its famous ruling families.
So, what does Jerusalem have to do with Pitigliano, would be your logical question. It is quite easy to answer: for more than 500 years, since the end of the 15th century, the town has been a quite port for the jewish community where its members were treated with hospitality and respect. That earned Pitigliano its nickname – the little Jerusalem. The synagogue, the cemetery, the bakery, the kosher butcher’s and, nowadays, the museum of the jewish culture became the testimonies of the religious and cultural tolerance of Maremma.
Pitigliano develops in length covering with the springs of its houses, buildings, squares and churches the whole surface of the rock it stands on. Many of the houses have been abandoned by their owners, many are on sale, some others host restaurants, souvenir shops and craftsmen laboratories. Bright colours, attractive smells, particular forms and materials – here Tuscany opens its arms in a friendly embrace, meeting its guests with the best gifts of the territory and local culture.
Some tips to arrange your trip:
- Pitigliano is perfect destination for a day-trip from Grosseto or any other location or seaside resort in Maremma.
- The most convenient way to reach Pitigliano is by car. It is possible to park it outside the centre of the town, that cannot be accessed without a special permit. The biggest part of the parking lots in the area outside the town isn’t free.
- It is also possible to reach Pitigliano by bus from Orbetello. You can check its timetable at this website. Be careful, though, timetables undergo seasonal changes, stay updated.
- If you are looking for a nice lunch or casual dinner location in Pitigliano, I will suggest you La pappaalpomodoro in Via Roma, 92 that offers its guests local home-style cuisine at reasonable prices.
If you are looking for some amazing autumn landscapes, authentic local food and off-the-beaten path travel experience, I sincerely recommend you to arrange a trip to Pitigliano, a perfect bucket list destination to learn something new about Italy and discover one of its most precious even if less known diamonds.
Photos credit: Machs Gut (c)