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Pitigliano, Province of Grosseto, Tuscany

The town itself is a striking sight, standing on an abrupt tuff high above the Olpeta, the Fiora and the Lente rivers.
It is known also as the Little Jerusalem since from the 14th century many Jewish families escaping from Rome found a safe refuge here, where they built a Jewinh quarter with synagogue, recently restored.

Info

  • Altitude: 313 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 4,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 58017
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0564
  • Patron Saint: St. Rocco, celebrated on 16 August
  • Frazioni & Localities: Casone
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Provinces of Tuscany

History

The area was inhabited in Etruscan times, but the first written mention of Pitigliano dates only to 1061. In the early 13th century it belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family, and by the middle of the century it had become the capital of the surrounding county.

In 1293 it passed to the Orsini family, which started a hundred and fifty years of wars with Siena, at the end of which, in 1455, a compromise of sorts was reached, by which Siena acknowledged that Pitigliano was a county and Pitigliano accepted the sovereignty of Siena. In 1562 the town was included in the Grand Dukedom of Tuscany, then in 1860 entered the Kingdom of Italy.

What to see

  • The beautiful Synagogue (1598, with furnishings of the 17th and 18th centuries) which remains officiated from time to time, and was very well restored in 1995.
  • The Tempietto, a curious small cave, probably of natural origin, but worked by man in different periods, a few hundred meters outside the central district, dated to Late Antiquity or the early Middle Ages.
  • Etruscan remains, known as the tagliate, a series of artificial cuts, wide enough for one or two pedestrians, cut into the tufa rock to varying depths ranging from a few feet to over 10 meters, radiating outward from the base of the rock of Pitigliano, down to the rivers then back to the top of the plateau. The purpose of the cuts is not known: the three main theories are that they were roads, quarries, or water conveyance schemes; A few very brief Etruscan inscriptions are said to have been found on the walls of the cuts, but are ill documented.

[the text above is partly derived from Wikipedia and is subject to the GNU licence]