The first thing the locals say to those who are lucky enough to wander through the medieval walls of Manciano is – “Manciano delle streghe, dove si va si vede”, which means, “Manciano, where the witches are, wherever you go you see“.
Okay, so they won’t actually say it to you, but this little ditty has been around for centuries and everyone knows it off by heart, including me, and I wasn’t even born in Manciano!
Witches aside, this quote perfectly sums up Manciano’s claim to regional fame – its incredible view.
But first, a few things about the locals. The Mancianese, as they’re called, are deeply traditional and unpretentious country folk who spend their days strolling through the cobblestone streets, stopping to chat to neighbours in their beautifully conserved tufo rock homes or sitting in the oak-lined park watching the world go by.
And what a world they watch! From their little hill top, the Mancianese can admire all of the Maremma.
They bask in the lush, olive grove-spotted hills in the nearby valleys. Peer at the roof tops and bell towers of the other medieval towns around them. And even get a glimpse of the rolling tides of the Argentario Coast more than 30 kilometres away.
It’s one hell of a view and it never fails to enchant the many tourists who spend hours standing in the terrace of the Fortezza Aldobrandeschi just trying to take it all in.
Historically, Manciano has plenty to complement this gorgeous view.
Its rich heritage began in the Middle Ages in the hands of the very powerful Aldobrandeschi family, who then gave the town away as a wedding gift to the Orsini Counts, rulers of nearby Pitigliano.
Like all of Maremma’s cities, Manciano continued to change hands, going from the Orsini Counts to the Republic of Siena, to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and even the famed Florentines- the Medici.
Without a doubt, it’s this diverse history that has coloured Manciano’s streets and monuments today. The city is a mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture, but for me it’s also home.
I love it for the atmosphere that envelopes all these buildings. The quiet summer afternoons when everyone is out for a stroll enjoying the view and the evenings when they pack restaurants like Il Miravalle for what has to be the best local fare for miles!