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Etruscan Pathways near Pitigliano

Pauline Kenny

I am ashamed to say that I find much of the Etruscan stuff in Italy boring. I love Stone Circles in England and the Dolmans in Ireland - we hunt for them in farmers' fields - but in Italy it is the ancient Roman things that I love, not the earlier Etruscan civilization. Give me a few feet of a Roman road any day instead of an Etruscan burial mound.

But, the Etruscan pathways (Vie Cave) near Pitigliano in southern Tuscany is a whole other story. These are fabulous.

The best book that I found to describe the pathways and other things around Pitigliano is a book that you can only find in the shops of this area: The hilltop towns of the Fiora valley: A guide to the Etruscan and Medieval centres of the Maremman hills. This book describes the Etruscan Pathways as "rock-sculpted passages which spread out in every direction from the valley below Pitigliano." They are ancient pathways carved out of the rock and you can walk down them, just like the Etruscans did thousands of years ago. They are carved deep into the rock, so it is almost like being in a cave, but they are open at the top.

Walking on the Etruscan Pathway near Pitigliano, 09/02

Walking down Via Cava di San Giuseppe near Pitigliano

Via Cava di San Giuseppe

On our September 2002 trip to Pitigliano, we found "Via Cava di San Giuseppe," a beautiful deep walkway carved out of the rock in a valley just below Pitigliano. There are many more of them in this area, but we have only seen this one so far. This one is very easy to get to and to find.

Directions: Take the main road down under Pitigliano in the direction of Sorano, and when you cross over the river you will see a sign and a parking spot immediately on your left. This is the River Lente. Signs say "Via Cava per Sovana" and "Le Strade del Tufo". Park there and walk into the fields - you will see signs and a path. After about 10 minutes walking you come to the Etruscan Pathway.

Map of Etruscan Pathways

There is a big map displayed in Pitigliano, showing the locations of Etruscan Pathways. I have listed them here.

1. San Lorenzo

2. Gradone - signposted and easy to reach, it has carved steps

3. Madonna delle Grazie

4. Fratenuti - one of the most interesting according to the book (The Hilltop Towns of the Fiora Valley), the walls have carvings and graffiti

5. San Giuseppe - this is the one we saw; on the night of the spring equinox, there is a torchlit procession down this pathway

6. dell'Annunciata

7. Concelli

8. Poggio Cane- signposted and easy to reach

Click on this map to see the large version that you can print. It is a photo of a sign in Pitigliano.

Resources

penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/: Bill Thayer's page on Pitigliano Vie Cave for more information and links to other sites

www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/pitigliano.htm: Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano

www.comune.pitigliano.gr.it: City of Pitigliano (in Italian)

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