The Mulino Falls of Saturnia
The Mulino Falls are one of the most beautiful places of Tuscan Maremma, located at 2 km from the Village of Saturnia and a few hundred meters from the spa. The water flowing from the source of the Terme di Saturnia and springs the waterfalls, is the result of a volcanic crater (where there is the swimming pool of the spa) flowing along a natural stream (the Gorello) for about 500 meters, where a gap creates the rapids touching an old mill and forming a series of natural pools carved into travertine rocks. The entrance to the falls is free and in August it is possible to swim also at night. The free baths are frequented by many Italian and foreign tourists as they are a quiet place, away from the stress and the chaos of the city, where you can enjoy moments of pure relax and well-being. The thermal springs of these falls have a constant temperature of 37.5 ° C and considerable therapeutic and healing properties. They are effective to treat various skin problems, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic and respiratory diseases, lower blood pressure, purify the liver, aid digestion and respiration.
Saturnia is a hamlet of the village of Manciano in the Maremma, located in the province of Grosseto in southern Tuscany. The village rose up on a hill overlooking the famous thermal springs of Saturnia and, as the story goes, is the oldest Italian town. The Romans built the site along the Via Clodia near the Etruscan Necropolis of Pian di Palma and the thermal springs. With the decline of Rome, Saturnia began a period of decline from which he emerged in the Middle Ages, thanks to the Counts of Tintinnano. In the 13th century, it passed to the Aldobrandeschis and in 1274 became part of the County of Sovana. In the following years, it was controlled earlier by Orvieto, then by Orsini and by the Republic of Siena, until the half of the sixteenth century when it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
What to see in Saturnia
In the old center of the Village of Saturnia there are many sights to see: first of all, the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, built in the Middle Ages and completely restored in the early 1900s; the Aldobrandesca Fortress, built in the twelfth century and the Castle Ciacci built, inside, during the Fascist era; the Panciatichi-Ximenes Palace, dated on the Renaissance; the Archaeological Museum, with the evidences discovered in the nearby Etruscan Necropolis; the Castellum aquarum, of Roman age, used like a cistern of the storm water; the City Walls and the Porta Romana. Outside the residential zone, there is the Necropolis of Puntone, rich of tombs and evidences from the Etruscan past of Saturnia.
Manciano: “the spy of Tuscan Maremma”
The village of Manciano is located in the province of Grosseto, in the southern Tuscany, and is nicknamed “The spy of Tuscan Maremma”, as it rises up on a hill peak where it is possible to admire the territories of the whole Maremma grossetana, stretching from the mountains to the sea and from the hills to the lakes.
In a short time, it is possible to reach all main destination of the area: Thermal Baths of Saturnia and its wellness centre; the free thermal baths of the Mulino Falls and the Thermal Baths of Sorano; the villages of Sovana, Pitigliano, Sorano, Vulci and Tarquinia; the Etruscan Necropolis and the Vie Cave (Excavated Roads); the sea of Orbetello, Capalbio, Porto Ercole and Talamone; Porto Santo Stefano, where you will find the ferry to the Giglio and Giannutri Islands; the Natural Park of Maremma (or Uccellina Park); the Bolsena and Burano Lakes and the Mount Amiata.
What to see in Manciano
Manciano is a typical medieval village that still shows the signs of ancient dominations. There are many things to see in the village: the Aldobrandesca Fortress, built by the homonym family ruled over the territory; the Cassero Senese (which is also the municipality headquarters) and the Clock Tower built under the rule of the Republic of Siena; the Church of St. Leonardo, built in the medieval age in Romanesque-Gothic style and later restored; the Fountain of Piazza Garibaldi, designed by Pietro Aldi for celebrating the opening of the Aqueduct of Fiora. Outside the city walls, worthy of note is the Church of the Santissima Annunziata.
The origins of Manciano
The name Manciano appeared for the first time in a bill of sale entered into by Lamberto Orsini in 973. Instead, the urban area of the village was built towards the end of 1200 and, during this period, the Aldobrandeschis began the construction of the walls and, before the middle of 1300, built on the highest point of the hill the imposing fortress, that take their name. After the Aldobrandeschis, the town of Orvieto and the Orsini of Pitigliano fought for the control of the village and, then the latter, the Republic of Siena. After repeated occupations, the village was permanently assigned to the Orsini but remained below the high dominion of Siena.
Manciano County Seat
In 1555, after the fall of the Republic of Siena, in the war against Florence, Manciano became a Florentine property under the rule of the Medici. The period of Florentine rule will coincide with a time of economic and demographic decline of the village due to the growth of swamplands and the consequent epidemics. In the eighteenth century, the Dukes of Lorraine, who succeeded to the Medici, reclaimed the surrounding territory and restored many buildings, encouraging the recovery of economic activities and the beginning of a long prosperity that led the village to become the County Seat in 1783.
Pitigliano, the Tuff City
Pitigliano rose up in the province of Grosseto, in the southern Tuscany, at the border of Tuscan Maremma. Who coming from Manciano, along the SS 74 Maremmana, arrives here for the first time will suddenly stumble upon an extraordinary sight: medieval houses and sheer towers, ravines and caves dug into the tuff, high walls of rock dominating the valley where the rivers Lens, Meleta and Prochio flow.
The history of Pitigliano
Pitigliano carefully preserves the memories and testimonies of its ancient past, its civilizations and cultures occurred over the centuries. This rock has been inhabited by prehistoric men of the Bronze Age with findings of the Neolithic period; by the Etruscans, as evidenced by the Vie cave (Excavated Roads) and the necropolis found in the surrounding area; by the Romans and by an important family, the gens Petilia, hence the name of Pitigliano; by the medieval family of Aldobrandeschis, the lords of the Maremma for almost half a millennium; by the roman family of the Orsini in the Renaissance and then by the Sieneses, by the Medici and Lorraines, who were the creators of a remarkable phase of modernization and urban development.
The Jewish Quarter
After the restrictions due to the Papal Bulls of the Papal State, Pitigliano hosted the Jews until the end of the fifteenth century and became an important shelter centre in the Central Italy. Over the years, the small Jewish community occupied the southern part of the village, today Via Zuccarelli (The Ghetto) where rose up: the Synagogue, the oven of unleavened bread, the school, the cellar dug into the tuff where “kosher” wine was produced, the kosher butcher, the bath of purification for women and the dry cleaners. Thanks to its economic and cultural vitality and mainly to the peaceful coexistence between Jews and Christians, the development of the Jewish community characterized the “Little Jerusalem” (as he was nicknamed Pitigliano) for more than five centuries.
The White of Pitigliano
The nature of the soils, the brightness and the mild climate of the area fostered over the centuries the development of a blooming viticulture that produced one of highest quality Italian white wines: the famous “Bianco di Pitigliano”, that received in 1966 one of the first DOC recognized in Italy. The same thing can be said for the excellent extra-virgin olive oil, obtained by cold pressing which, matched with the wine, makes even more tasty the typical dishes of this area.
What to see in Pitigliano
There are many worth things to see in Pitigliano. Approaching to the village, the first thing that catches the eye, looking to the right, are the giant arches of the Aqueduct Mediceo, built by the Medici from 1636 to 1639. From Piazza Petruccioli you will arrive in the old center and, with the aqueduct on the left side, to the Fortezza Orsini and to Palazzo Orsini of Aldobrandesca origin. In Gregorio VII Square, we find the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, in Zuccarelli Street the Jewish Ghetto and in Generale Orsini Street the thirteenth-century Romanesque Church of St. Maria.
Just outside the city walls, we can admire the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie and its garden for enjoying a great view of Pitigliano; the church and convent of St. Francesco in the Orsini Park; and finally, on the road to Manciano, the Jewish cemetery, the Etruscan necropolis of Poggio Buco and its old settlement already inhabited in the prehistoric age.
The Village of Sovana
Sovana is one of the villages of the so-called “Area of Tuffs”, located in the southern Tuscany in the province of Grosseto, in the municipality of Sorano. It was an important Etruscan centre, medieval and renaissance village and Episcopal seat. The village is part of the list of the most beautiful Italian villages sponsored by the National Association of Italian Municipalities.
The origins of Sovana
I primi abitanti di questa zona furono pastori ed agricoltori che si stabilirono lungo il fiume Armine (l’odierno Fiora). The first inhabitants of this area were shepherds and farmers settled along the Armine river (today Fiora). In Etruscan times, with the name “Suana”, it was allied of Vulci and supported the struggles against the roman expansion. After the Roman victory of 278 a.C it was elevated to a “Municipium” and with the development of trade and crafts, it lived a long period of prosperity. In the fifth century, with the spread of Christianity, it became a bishopric. The town, as we know it today, rose up in the Middle Ages near the archaeological site of the Etruscan Necropolis. Towards the end of the fifth century, it was conquered by the Lombards (594) and delivered to the Aldobrandeschi. In 1020, approximately, in Sovana was born Hildebrand Aldobrandeschis of Soana became famous in history as Pope Gregory VII. Inherited by the Orsini Family in 1293, it was looted and destroyed by the Sieneses in 1410. With the final fall of the Republic of Siena, it was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the Medici control.
What to see in Sovana
To whom loves the history of art and the nature, the must it comes in Sovana as in its old town they can find monuments of great value such as: the Romanesque Cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, began in the eighth century and completed in the thirteenth; the Aldobrandesca Fortress, built in the XI century and restored by the Sieneses and the Medici; the Episcopal Palace, seat and residence of the bishops, dated in the Middle Ages; the ruins of St. Mamiliano, the oldest church in the village; the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, dated in the thirteenth century; the Palace of Archive and the Praetorian Palace, dated in 1200; the Lodge (or litte Loggia) of the Captain; the Renaissance Bourbon Palace del Monte and the house where Pope Gregory VII was born. Finally, the Archaeological Area of Sovana and the Etruscan necropolis of Poggio Felceto with the monumental Hildebrand Tomb; the Sopra Ripa necropolis with the Tomb of the Mermaid, the Tomb of the Typhoon, the Tomb Folonia, the Tomb of Silenus and the Tomb of the Colombari; the Vie Cave (Excavated Roads) of Poggio Prisca, the Via Cava called “the Tschafon” (necropolis of Poggio Felceto) and the Via Cava of San Sebastiano.
Origins of the Etruscan civilization
The Etruscans were skilled merchants and refined craftsmen of ceramic and gold, they are remembered for their artistic ability, imagination, resourcefulness and aptitude in the management of maritime trade in the Mediterranean. The Etruscan civilization spread in the Italian peninsula at the beginning of the Iron Age around the tenth-ninth century a.C. The first settlements were in the Po Valley, Tuscany, Northern Lazio and Campania.
The Etruscan mystery
Many are the conjectures (discordant) on their origin: Erotodo told of people coming from Lydia (Minor Asia), who, due to the terrible famine, put to sea and led by the leader “Tyrrhenian” landed in the Italian territory. Dionysius of Halicarnassus claimed that they were people native to this place; a third hypothesis compares the Etruscans to the people of Reti of Alps, so coming here from the north. Currently, the Etruscology is oriented on two different positions: in Italy, they think that the Etruscan civilization owes its formation to a slow process of integration between the native population of Central Italy and Villanovan culture, as well as cultural and linguistic influences from the East and the Central Europe; while other researchers base their theories on linguistic comparisons and thus support the oriental origin and in particular that Greek and Turkish.
The Etruscans of Maremma
The Maremman Etruscan civilization, whose fame reached in the sixth century its greatest splendor, was educated, hardworking and aristocratic, as demonstrated by the numerous testimonies collected in the most famous cities such as Roselle, Vetulonia, Sorano, Sovana, Pitigliano and Ghiaccio Forte. The ability to trade, the love for the art and beauty, but especially the vocation to peace did not help it to create a strong internal consistency. It was the lack of a unitary state the reason for the disappearance of the Etruscan civilization, in fact after the capture of Veio in 396 a.C, the other cities did not join and did not intervene immediately, this was the reason why, before Roselle in 294 a.C and then all the Maremman Etruria fell under the Roman rule
The Vie Cave (Excavated Roads)
The Etruscan mystery is not just about their civilization but also about some works came to us. You just have to visit the various Etruscan necropolis to realize that there are special roads called “Vie Cave” also called “Cavoni” or “ Tagliate (Cut)”. The “Vie Cave” are suggestive passages, dig up through tuff walls, taller than 20 meters, about one kilometer long and 3 meters wide. Inside there are ancient tombs, swastikas, shrines and niches. Le Vie Cave are present only in Maremma, in the area near Pitigliano, Sorano, Sovana and San Quirico. The best known are: the Via Cava of St. Rocco in Sorano; the Cavone and the Via Cava of St. Sebastiano in Sovana; the Via Cava of St. Joseph, Madonna delle Grazie and Fratenuti in Pitigliano. These trails have no comparison with other civilizations of the ancient world. The reason for their creation is still not certain: some researchers argue that they are real roads of communication, dig up into the tuff for connecting the towns and minimizing the large differences between the valley floor and the above floor; others researchers consider them as holy routes where every day ceremonies and processions were held to honor the dead; and even others say that they were engineering works for draining the water. The particular climatic and environmental conditions developed over the centuries have favored the growth of various types of ferns, mosses and lichens that give to these routes a striking greenish reflection.
The village of Sorano is located in the province of Grosseto in the south of Maremma Tuscany in the area called “Area of Tuffs“. The village is nestled in a unique and striking way up to a steep tuff rock at the foot of Mount Amiata and has several ups and downs. The old town is characterized by a network of alleys, courtyards, arches, portals with bosses in relief, exterior stairs, balconies and cellars dig up in the tuff where in the past the local inhabitants performed the various stages of harvest. The Soranesi cellars have unique characteristics in Italy and it would be appropriate to create routes for improving their utilization. Among those available to the people, we recommend the wine cellars of the Aldobrandeschis Inn and the restaurant “Hostaria Terrazza Aldobrandeschi” from whose terrace you can admire the “columbarium” and the necropolis of St. Rocco. The other wine cellars of the village are private and are opened to the people only during the “Festival of wine cellars “, an event organized by an association of Sorano.
The history of Sorano
The area where today rose up Sorano was already inhabited in the prehistoric age, even if few archaeological pieces not allow us to be able to absolutely confirm it. Also this settlement, like all the villages of this area, lived an Etruscan age, as evidenced by the several sites where the necropolis and the Vie Cave are located, but spent under the control of the neighboring Sovana which at that time was living an important process of development and political course. Romans conquered the Etruria in the III century a.C but the traces of their passage, not so many, are limited to the conferment of the name “Soranus” to the area and the discovery of numerous location dug into the tuff called “columbari” were the cinerary urns of the defuncts were put. With the establishment of the Aldobrandesca County by the Emperor Ludovico II on the 9th October 862, the story of Sorano begins. The village belonged earlier to the Aldobrandeschis that designed it as a defensive village, building the homonymous fortress and fortified walls still surrounding the old town. Later, after moving to the County Sovana, it was inherited by the Orsini who expanded the castle and built the fortress with their name. During the 1400s, the expansionist ambitions of the Republic of Siena will force the Orsini to defend themselves from the numerous assaults of Siena. But, despite the constant assaults, the village was never conquered and deserved, by Cosimo de’ Medici, the nickname “match of the Italian wars”. After the fall of the Orsini, in 1604 , Sorano became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and remained under the control of the Medici until 1737 and the Habsburg-Lorraine until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy with the plebiscite of 1860.
What to visit in Sorano
Who arrives in Sorano will soon realize that along the alleys, courtyards and endless staircases of the old town there are many buildings to see. First of all, the imposing Aldobrandesca fortress (then became Orsini fortress) built by the family in 1172, inherited from the Orsini at the end of 1200 and enlarged by Niccolo Orsini IV in 1552; the Leopoldino Rock or old fortress built in the medieval age and renovated by the Lorraines; the Palace Comitale, the former residence of the Counts Orsini, the two old gates of entry to the village: the Porta dei Merli (or door of bottom) and the Porta di Sopra or Arc of Ferrini, the Romanesque collegiate church of St. Nicholas, dated to the Middle Ages, the Jewish ghetto established by the Medici in 1619; the medieval church of Pieve di Santa Maria dell’Aquila located near one of the springs of Terme di Sorano and erected during the Aldobrandesco government.
Archaeological Park “City of Tuff”
The Archaeological Park “City of Tuff” was born by decision of the town of Sorano in order to enhance the historical, cultural and natural beauty of its territory. In addition to the most important testimonies of the Etruscan period, the park includes numerous and important buildings from the medieval period. The park stretches from Sorano, Sovana and Vitozza (San Quirico di Sorano) and includes: the village and the necropolis of Sovana, the Fortezza Orsini and Leopoldino Rock in Sorano; the rocky settlement of St. Rocco a two km from the village, the rocky settlement of Vitozza (San Quirico di Sorano) and its two hundred caves.
Capalbio – “The litte Athens”
Capalbio is located in the province of Grosseto in the southern Tuscany. The village is located on top of a hill and from its enviable position the visitor gaze can range from the countryside to the sea. About the environmental context and the historical and cultural importance, achieved during the Renaissance, it has been nicknamed “Little Athens”. The municipality has been awarded several times with the “five sails” for the singularity of its territory and the first place in the “Blue Guide” by “Legambiente Touring Club” for the care and management of the beaches, landscape and surrounding environment. The name Capalbio seems to derive from Caput Album or Campus Albus, due to the white alabaster that characterize the place.
The history of Capalbio
The castle of Capalbio is mentioned for the first time in ’805 in the seal Leonine Carolingian in which Charlemagne gave it to the Abbey of Anastasius and St. Vincent at the Three Fountains of Rome. The possession was confirmed by a “privilegium” issued by the Pope Alexander III in 1161. Later, the territory was controlled by the Aldobrandeschis who built around the village a double ring of walls and then by the Orsini. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the castle was conquered by Orvieto. After the last passage under the dominion of Siena (made official by an act of submission in 1416), it begins for the village a period of great prosperity. In 1555 with the defeat of Siena, Capalbio was given by the Spanish to their ally Cosimo de’ Medici, whose dynasty will maintain its sovereignty over the territory until 1737. With the extinction of the main branch of the Medici, the succession will pass to the Dukes of Lorraine, until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy with the Plebiscite of 1860.
What to see in Capalbio
The old town of Capalbio is accessible from the Senese Door, a double arch door where in the upper part was put a plaque in memory of a strengthening of the walls made by the Sienese in 1418 and a coat of arms of the Medici in 1601. Walking along the two levels of the walls, you will find immersed in the Middle Ages and you can gaze out from the hinterland hills to the sea. Hiking over Collacchioni Street you will arrive at the Aldobrandesca fortress near the Palace Collacchioni, built in 1900, where Puccini was playing the piano during his stays in the village. In the main square, you will enter in the church of St. Nicholas, dated XII-XIII century, and in the village you will find the Holy Arc where is posted an effigy in marble of the Emperor Hadrian. A special mention deserves Magenta Square, a charming square in the old center of Capalbio, whence the ancient walls of the trenches are accessible, used by the patrol to defend the city. Nearby, you will find the WWF oasis of Lake Burano and inside the Buranaccio Tower built by the Spanish. In Garavicchio , near Pescia Fiorentina, you can visit the artistic park of the “Garden of Tarots “, created by Niki de Saint Phalle , well known at international level and flagship of the Maremma.
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