sovana rocca monicaBuilt in the 6th century on the ruins of an ancient Etruscan wall, this fortress was once what stood between Sovana and the rest of the world.

Like all of the Maremma's ancient buildings, La Rocca became part of the vast Aldobrandeschi empire, before falling into the hands of the Orsini Counts.

The fortress was a wedding gift for Romano Orsini and Anastasia Aldobrandeschi, but they obviously didn't care for it or their newly acquired city Sovana, abandoning both for the allures of Pitigliano.

The fortress was saved from a century of decay by the Sienese in the 15th century.

The facade you see today was their design, with a little help from Cosimo I de'Medici, who took over in the second half of the 16th century.

Today La Rocca stretches from the eastern corner of the old town centre all the way to a small outcrop of tufo rock in the countryside. It's massive.

It's also pretty well maintained and you're free to explore the bottom level and inner courtyard - just walk under the round archway that opens on the side closest to the town centre.

The walls of this fortress are really the most impressive. They were impenetrable and effectively cut Sovana off from their neighbouring cities.

Part of the walls has remained as the Etruscans built it, while the fortress' tower, which is preserved only on two sides, is crowned by the ornate peaked style that can be seen on almost all of the Aldobrandeschi fortresses.

Photo: Monica via Flickr.

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