Pitigliano is so beautiful, so enchanting, that it’s surprising how little tourist attention it receives.
It is without a doubt the Maremma’s greatest treasure and most breathtaking city.
You will not see anything like it anywhere else in the world, and the locals who don’t live in Pitigliano have begrudging accepted that it is, without a doubt, their most beautiful offering to international tourists.
Past the city walls, Pitigliano is a breathtaking maze of cobbled streets and alleys, worn but quaint houses and tiny bursts of lush green patio gardens.
Here the people are experts in their local history and rich heritage. Cultured, with a city-air about them, the Pitiglianese are viciously proud of their home and desperate to tell anyone who will listen about its roots.
And so they should. Pitigliano can trace its roots back 3500 years.
According to local legend, two young friends, thieves who had stolen the golden crown of Giove Statore (otherwise known as Zeus), fled from Rome and settled in the Fiora Valley.
Inspired by the beauty around them, they decided to build a kindgom and called it Petiliano, an amalgamation of their names Petilia and Celiano, bringing nearby residents together with promises of wealth and prosperity.
Legends aside, Pitigliano was already home to a grand civilisation long before Petilia and Celiano came to call. Ruins in the area date back to the Etruscans, who flocked to the countryside because of its cool climate and abundent water supply.
Like most of the Maremma, the city of Pitigliano is distinctly medieval, shaped into its current form by the powerful Aldobrandeschi family.
However, the city has one element that elevates it far above the rest. Pitigliano is carved entire into the tufo rock cliff it sits on.
During the day, the way in which the beautiful stone houses wrap themselves around the harsh rock below is breathtaking, but during the night, the effect is nothing less than enchanting.
It’s as if the buildings are the leaves of an old and gnarled tree. There are so intertwined with the cliff, that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. The sight will take your breath away.
The city is also home to Tuscany’s only Jewish Ghetto, built to house fleeing Italian Jews in the 1500s.
Allowed complete cultural and religious freedom, this community flourished, earning Pitigliano the nickname “Piccola Gerusalemme” – Little Jerusalem.
Today you can still walk through the Jewish Ghetto, which is eerily empty and remains unchanged from the years when it was filled with life and colour.