The tuff villages: a piece of history in stone


tuff village
ph. credits: Alice Pruccoli

In Maremma you can walk along the ancient streets dug entirely in the tuff by the Etruscans. They are called the Vie Cave, roads used since the seventh century BC. that connected the necropolis and the most inhabited villages of the Etruscan civilization in Maremma. Three of them were Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana – also known as the villages of Tuff – to which we will devote this article.


Pitigliano is a typical example of medieval town built on a spur of tuff that was excavated in Etruscan times. One of Pitigliano’s peculiarities are its underground cellars, a consequence of the malleability of the volcanic rock on which it was built, which allowed the construction of a special room under every house to store food, oil and wine. Olive trees and vines cultivated in the countryside surrounding Pitigliano give life to the characteristic Maremman oil and the famous “Bianco di Pitigliano”.

It is also known as the “little Jerusalem” for its central role in the life of some Jewish families since the sixteenth century. The Ghetto and the Synagogue are two of the most important places full of history that should not be missed.

tuff village

ph. credits: Alice Pruccoli


Sovana is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, for the way it has preserved its medieval atmosphere. It is located at 7 km from Pitigliano and in its territory there are several Etruscan necropolis and a part of the Vie Cave. In the past it was an important Etruscan village, then medieval and renaissance, therefore avoiding any restructuring of the Baroque period.

The Rocca Aldobrandesca, situated at the entrance of the village and built in the XI century, was used as a defensive center. Other points of interest are the Piazza del Pretorio, the Duomo and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.



To complete the journey through the Tuff villages, a visit to Sorano is the ideal conclusion: tuff houses, narrow alleys and historic buildings of various architectures. Sorano, like Sovana and Pitigliano, is an Etruscan village with a peculiarity: its strategic position. As in Pitigliano, the little Jerusalem, Jewish communities have lived here for several centuries, so Sorano also has a Ghetto and a Synagogue, which can still be visited today.

Don’t miss the Mure Cittadine and the two access gates, known as Porta di Sopra and Porta di Sotto – ancient stone buildings that will take you back in time – the Orsini Fortress, the Collegiate Church and the Masso Leopoldino.

The tuff indicates the volcanic nature of the soil and consequently the richness of the thermal waters of a territory. The Terme di Sorano are accessible to the public while the famous Terme di Saturnia are 30 km away.