May 7: Sovano to Sorano to Pitigliano and back

The day started with a definite chill to the air so layers were the call of the day for clothing. Today's agenda was to explore the three Etrucan (pre-medieval) cities of the area. Sovano is a town of 102 and home to the hotel. Sorano is larger with a population of around 400. Pitigliano is the largest with approximately 4000 inhabitants. All three were originally built during the Etruscan period on the top of "flat tops" and cliffs formed through volcanic activity and erosion later. Today one sees the medieval cities that were built on top of the original Etruscan villages. Each building still serves a purpose and is in active use. The cities are vibrant and thriving on commerce very similar to those many years ago. Tourism has brought in a degree of specialty shops,but the main income is still derived from the agricultural products. Olive tree grace the hill sides, sheep graze in the meadows, wheat growing appears to carpet the land with a soft velvety appearance. Each give the local residents a source of income -- and -- the visiting tourist a meal to "die for"!

Pitigliano, the largest of the three is also the home of a Jewish settlement of years gone by. During medieval times there was a Jewish immigration to this area. Pitigliano leaders at the time realized that the immigrants could provide the city with elements that were missing in the structure of a healthy working metropolis. The local residents were predominately farmers. The town needed merchants, shop owners, and financial experts. The two groups mixed very well and lived for many years on harmony, each owning property and assuming leading roles in the community. At one point there were over 400 Jews in the city. However, that was not to last. As the ruling leaders changed, so did the attitude toward the Jews. The Pope in the early 16th century declared that the Jews were not to own property and should not be allowed to live intermixed with the non-Jew population and created a ghetto area in the oldest part of town and ordered all Jews to move into it. While the Jewish population agreed and followed the decree, only the Pope was in favor of it. For all the years that followed, the city of Pitigliano has always considered itself not segregated and has never treated the Jews with anything other than respect and love. During WWII no Pitigliano Jew died in the concentration camps. The Pitigliano citizens protected their neighbors.

After climbing the twisting road to the top of the hill a lunch was a welcome sight. Typical Tuscan food of wild boar on crostini, tomato and basil dripping in olive oil on a crostini, large tossed salad and big bowl of a lentil variety soup were all washed down with the local red wine of the area. And dessert! A cookie dunked in a shot of sherry or maybe a piece of blackberry torte -- what a choice! When in Rome, do like the Romans -- when in Tuscany, do like the Tuscans!!

Full and happy the group marched off with Elizabetha, our Pitigliano guide for the afternoon. A delightful and knowledgeable young woman, who was very anxious to share her love of the city with each one of us.

But now it was back down the hill and back to our small village of Sovano. A local chef had agreed to give the group a "cooking" lesson in Tuscan food -- wild boar cooked in red wine, fresh homemade pasta turned into a ricotta cheese and mint tortellini! Everything made with local and fresh ingredients. Italy is part of the "slow food" movement -- use only ingredients that are from the local area and use them fresh when possible. The treat to the lesson -- had to eat the finished product!!

On the Road to Sorano

Old Tombs in Cliff


Pit Stop

Sue in Downtown Sorano

Lisa in Downtown Sorano

Jackie Strolling the Streets of Sorano

Main Street

Sorano Side Street

Door Restoration



Pitgliano City Entrance

Original Aqueduct System

Jackie & Paolo in City

Main Street

Another View of Main Street

Dario Ordering Lunch


Jewish Cemetery

Little Jerusalem

Original synagogue collapsed -- this is the "new" synagogue-- not in use since 1959 due to too small of a Jewish population now

Jackie Finds Another "Betty Boop"

"Well, Hell--ll--o Again!!"

Acacia Tree -- The Sweet Smell That Follows the Group as They Ride

And That Need Caffeine Break!

Cooking 101

"Do It Like This"

"Not Perfect, But Close!"

Finished Product -- Excellent!!!