Tucked into the fertile highlands of southwestern Tuscany, the small community of Pitigliano is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. Pitigliano is one of several prominent hilltop communities located within Italy’s Maremma region in southwestern Tuscany. This perfectly preserved community features a historic city center dating back to medieval times with many other ancient sites created more than 1,000 years ago. With a permanent population of 4,000, Pitigliano, Italy, is a true off-the-map tourist destination ripped from the pages of fairy tales and history books.
Inhabited by the ancient Italian Etruscans or Tuscans that are credited as the founders of Rome, this richly historic community makes a big impression on its visitors. Set atop rocky bluffs, the city center of Pitigliano with its tile-roofed buildings, classical villas and medieval structures creates a formidable sight. The first historical records of Pitigliano date back to the year 1061 when they region was controlled by the Etruscans. By the beginning of the medieval era, Pitigliano was the capital of the surrounding Grosseto province.
Pitigliano is located among fertile hills overlooking three regional rivers. The landscape in this pastoral region includes open plains, green hills, olive trees and cattle pastures. For many years, the rural area surrounding Pitigliano has been used by ranchers that keep sheep, horses and cattle. Due to its strategic location, Pitigliano was a haven for a thriving Jewish community that sought refuge from the southern Papal States. Pitigliano is famous for producing Kosher wines as well as a white wine known as Bianco di Pitigliano.
The rocky hills that surround Pitigliano are home to many ancient sites, including primitive caves, tunnels, tombs and irrigation channels carved into the limestone tufa. One of the oldest caves, which is known as the paleochristian tempiettom, is believed to be an ancient Christian temple created in 400 A.D. Jewish settlers created a matzo bakery in a similar hillside cave.
Today, Pitigliano features a historic medieval city center with modern vacation apartments built in the surrounding areas. This unique destination located near the midpoint of Italy’s western coast is a great place to discover Italian culture. Pitigliano enjoys temperate weather most of the year with highs in the mid-80s during the summer months and winter lows averaging between 35 and 50 degrees. Buses serve Pitigliano on a regular basis. The community is also a great daytrip destination for travelers staying in Montepulciano or near Lake Bolsena.