Pitigliano to Sovana: Free morning to explore crag-top Pitigliano, its Etruscan houses, medieval fortress and synagogue. Then follow an Etruscan lane to a small plateau, with pastures and vines, to the charming village of Sovana (4.9 miles, 3 hours).
Free day in Sovana: Visit Sovana’s fine Romanesque churches. Walk to see the outstanding Etruscan necropolis, including the Tomba della Sirena, restored by the ATG Trust (2.5 miles).”
After breakfast and our orientation meeting with Annalisa we set off on our first day’s walking. We felt that we had explored Pitigliano sufficiently the previous afternoon and were happy to get started with the walk in earnest.
Our next port-of-call was to be Sovana a pretty village, popular with day visitors (especially so probably because Friday 25 April was an Italian public holiday and the weather was good), just a few miles from Pitigliano.
Our path lead us through further fine examples of Vie Cave, past ancient Etruscan tombs carved out of the local tufa rock and along the ubiquitous strada bianca (small gravel country roads connecting farms) – marked ‘SB’ in our trusty route booklet.
Via Cava di San Giuseppe
Etruscan Tombs – good examples of ‘tomba a camera’
Our first Strada Bianca
After this relatively easy walk along open tracks and through woodland and further vie cave we arrived in Sovana in the early afternoon allowing us plenty of time to have lunch, explore the village and relax in the beautiful gardens of the Sovana Hotel and Resort right next door to the ancient Duomo.
Arriving in the main Piazza in Sovana
The Via Del Duomo, Sovana
The Romanesque Duomo from the hotel gardens
The Duomo from the Hotel window
The Carved Cathedral Doorway
It was lovely to spend two nights at the Sovana Hotel. The ‘free’ day was a Saturday and many people were visiting the village but our circular walk was mostly very quiet although we did join some others at the necropolis Parco Archeologico “Citta’ del Tufo”
“Discovered by S.J. Ainsley and George Dennis in 1843, the Etruscan Tombs are situated along the road from Sovana to S. Martino Sul Fiora. This valley, lined with tombs, is possibly the best preserved Etruscan necropolis. Whilst the tombs themselves are underground, above many of them Greek ‘temple’ style monuments have been carved into the rock. They were not only burial tombs but the flights of steps up the ‘temples’ meant they were places of worship as well. They were stuccoed and painted.” [Adapted from the Route Booklet]
At the Parco Archeologico
Artist’s Impression of the Tomba Pola
Close-up view of the column at the Tomba Ildebranda
About the Tomba Ildebranda it says in the Route Booklet : “The magnificent tomb/temple was discovered only in 1925 and named in honour of Pope Gregory (who was previously Ildebrando [and born in Sovana in the Middle Ages], with whom the tomb clearly has nothing whatsoever to do! It was evidently the tomb of some wealthy, Etruscan-Roman governor of the municipium. It has an exterior resembling a Greek temple, with pillars and roof – all carved out of the rock in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC.”
La Tomba della Sirena impression
A short walk away and across the road from the Tomba Ildebranda etc is the Tomba della Sirena [Tomb of the Mermaid] the restoration of which was partly paid for by the ATG Trust. Dating back to 250 BC it was the first tomb to be discovered by Ainsley and Dennis in 1843.
La Tomba della Sirena from the Information Board
La Tomba della Sirena
La Tomba della Sirena – Acknowledgement of ATG Contribution
The now closed-off Via Cava di San Sebastiano
We spent much of the morning inspecting the tombs area and then completed the circular walk back to Sovana for lunch again at a pavement cafe on the Via del Duomo. We had hoped to take the opportunity this afternoon to visit one of the nearby thermal springs. Before the trip we had understood them to be within a short distance of the village but it turned out that they were over 20 kms away, were located within private spa resorts and transport seemed complicated and not helped by it being a public holiday weekend. They also threatened to be very busy. In the end we opted to relax again in the afternoon in preparation for the next four days walking – over 10 miles each day!